Joachim’s Tests

palaceoftwelvepillars200x300 (2)A few weeks ago I posted an article about Brandan’s tests. This week I wanted to talk about Joachim’s tests. Joachim’s tests are a little different from Brandan’s. Sidramah’s goal is to either turn Joachim to evil or destroy him.

 

 

 

 

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 The walls, carved of black onyx, created a dark, forbidding aura. Cold wet slime covered the floors; Joachim’s blood seemed to freeze as he walked on it. An eerie yellow light emanated from the corner, and though he tried to fight it, something inexorabably drew him closer. Trembling, he approached and stepped into the sulfurous light. His knees buckled, and he fell to the rock floor of the cave but continued to crawl forward. A dark, daunting presence appeared in a cloud of smoke and fog and floated in front of Joachim. The being’s black robe brushed the floor; straight raven-colored hair rested on its shoulders. The figure’s red glowing gaze seemed to penetrate Joachim.
The man held a silver goblet. Writhing snakes encircled the vessel, slithering up the man’s arms and wrapping around his neck. The prince stood and took a step back but could go no further. Something held him in place and then shoved him toward the figure. When Joa stood within arm’s reach, the being pushed the goblet into his hands. “Drink.” The prince tried to drop the cup, but the snakes wrapped themselves around his hands and began the journey up his arms. The mug was hot and felt as if it was fusing to his hands, yet the cup remained intact. His arms took on a will of their own and raised the vessel to his lips. When the cup touched his mouth, the vile potation slid over his lips and down his throat. The snakes released him, and he dropped the goblet. Waves of pain assaulted his abdomen while his mouth burned. He fell. * * * * “What was that?” Fuzzy memories of a peyote tea lesson and its effects filled his mind as blackness and dark visions took shape. The figure picked him up. “You don’t belong here. You aren’t worthy to be Sidramah’s servant. The volcanic fires of Mount Dablaya will temper your rebellion and be final proof of your unworthiness.” * * * *

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The first is an attempt to convert him by convincing him that his family doesn’t care about him:

The man turned as the wall of the cave erupted into a sheet of flame. Joachim was catapulted into the fiery vision. Flames licked his body. Pain exploded in his brain, and fireworks erupted around him. He tried to find an escape from the intense heat. His stomach roiled as he inhaled smoke, and he threw up before he could move on. Bile lingered in his mouth, igniting the impulse to vomit again. Dreams of cool water streaming over his body and satisfying his thirst teased at the edges of his mind like chickens just out of reach of a chained dog. After catching
his breath, inhaling smoke and sparks, he resumed crawling and searching for an escape route. He cried out, “Father help me. Asha come to my aid!” The response was Waldrom’s laughter echoing off the walls. “They aren’t here. They don’t care. They won’t help you.” After what seemed like hours of crawling through the flames, he exited into a field. A thunderstorm roared around him. The rain pelted his burned, aching body. There was momentary respite before the cooling raindrops turned to ash. Rivers of lava flowed down the mountain on their journey to the canyon standing before him. On the opposite rim was a sun-dappled meadow with the Go Ruden River flowing lazily into the forest beyond. On the banks, his father and mother watched Brandan and Myrria dance. Disregarding the canyon, Joachim ran toward them. At the edge of a precipice, he halted. “Father, Myrria, it’s me. Help!” His father turned. Waldrom stood behind the king. “Your father no longer loves you. He abandoned his search and is making your brother king in your stead. Come to me. I’ll take care of you. You’ll become my heir, and together, we’ll avenge you by destroying your father and brother.” “No, you’re not my father. King Theodric’s my father. I won’t bow to you.” “You will, or you’ll die like your father and brother.” The dragon flapped her wings as if to fly to him but froze as Waldrom stared at her. Then the wizard focused his gaze on prince and king. They fell twisting and writhing as mist descended on them. Screams erupted but were soon silenced as the mist lifted. Their faces were grey-blue with eyes rolled back. Lava covered their bodies as colored glass rained on the smoldering field. “No!” Joachim stepped forward and fell into the canyon. * * * *
Joachim opened his eyes, and the man stood before him. “They don’t want you. They will not rescue you. Turn to Sidramah, turn to Waldrom. They will meet your needs.” “No, they can’t. Asha and Father will come for me.”

 

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When Joachim doesn’t succumb then the Evil One steps up his game:

The man disappeared. Joachim sat on the floor, his head dropped into his hands, and tears fell down his face. “Will they come for me? Should I trust Waldrom? Asha please tell me what to do.” He looked at the wall, and the stone seemed to dissolve as black mist rose, revealing the great room at the Palace of Three Crosses. Waldrom sat on the throne with Lilia standing by his side. “Ahh, Joachim, I see you have arrived and just in time. You’re about to witness a great moment in the history of Mahorg and Crato. Lilia has agreed to be my bride.” Diving at the throne, Joachim yelled, “No, this isn’t happening. Mother would never agree to be yours. She is with Father.” “That is where you’re mistaken my boy.” Waldrom pushed him with his foot. “Your mother is mine!” “No, she’ll never be yours.” The vision faded as he turned to run from Waldrom and saw Lilia entering. He glanced back, and the previous scene was gone. Overjoyed, he ran to her. She was dressed in a black gown with a black hood covering her brown hair. The queen stopped his embrace with a stern look. “You must give in. Your father is no good for you. You’ll never be king. He will bestow that honor on Brandan. Waldrom is the only one who can make you king. Return to him, and you will get nothing.” “Mother, how can you say that?” “I don’t love your father. He blinded me, led me to believe he loved me. But he didn’t, and it broke my heart. Waldrom has always loved me. I now realize I should have been with him. Theodric is evil and treacherous. Accept Waldrom while you still have a chance.” “No, you’re lying. He has cast some kind of spell on you. Father loves you. He loves all of us. We’ll be together soon. We can forget all about Waldrom and his evil ways.” “I’m surprised you still believe that drivel, boy.” Waldrom laughed. “Your father doesn’t care. Brandan doesn’t care. There is nothing left for you but to come to me. I am the only one who cares.” “Do as he suggests,” Lilia put her hand on Joachim’s shoulder. “It is the only way.” This wasn’t right. Father would never abandon him. Brandan did care, and Mother would never go to King Waldrom. That wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. “It is the only way.” Lilia hugged him. He opened his eyes. “I can’t do this. But what if I don’t? Who will I have left to turn to?” The man in black reappeared. “You know what you must do. Sidramah is the only way. Give into him. Let him give you what you need.” Turning away from the man, Joachim fell asleep. Troubling dreams haunted him throughout the night. They were filled with harpies and banshees that caressed him while trying to lure him into their lairs. Giant wolves and Nemean lions stalked him and occasionally leapt at him, attempting to kill him. Joachim pushed the harpies away as he tried to run from the lions. Arms of skeletons kept reaching out, and Joachim batted them away. The creatures continued to come at him as he ran down a stale, dark passageway smelling of rot and decay. He moved toward a light at the end of the tunnel, but the closer he got, the farther away the light seemed. He tripped over a pile of bones, twisting his ankle.
His father appeared before him. Joachim reached out. “Father, I’m here. Help me… Take me home.” “No, Joachim, I’m not here to take you away. You must stay with Waldrom and learn from him. He’s your only salvation. I no longer need you. Brandan will take your place and be a fine king when the time comes. There is no need for you to come back.” His father’s image disolved into Waldrom who looked into Joa’s eyes. “I told you he no longer wanted you. Now, will you come to me and be my son and heir.” He saw the kingdom of Crato with himself as king and Waldrom, a great wizard. The last thing he saw was Waldrom and Lilia joined…and Waldrom became his father.

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In one more attempt to sway Joachim, Sidramah plants seeds of death and doubt in Joachim’s mind:

He awoke on the hard ground. Sweat peppered his brow and chest as questions tormented him. He spoke, hoping to hear the answers and yet knowing he wouldn’t. “Who should I believe? Waldrom gave me no reasons to trust him, but Father hasn’t shown up to rescue me yet. Maybe he gave up on me in favor of Brandan. And what of the dark magic?” Joachim could do so much more if he embraced it, but it went against everything he learned and believed. A Nemean lion roared from the depths of the cave making Joachim jump. He ran toward the entrance, but a gray dragon blocked his path. Beyond the dragon he could see Mother, Father, and Brandan playing in the surf of the Takan Ocean. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, Waldrom and Mother stood before him, beckoning to join them. A celebration surrounded them. Both were dressed in radiant white clothes. Rosas covered the ground beneath them. Mantion and humans danced and sang around them. Brandan stood beside a glass enclosed coffin. Father lay in the box, dressed in black. Brandan ran his hand over the casket and looked Joachim in the eye. “You’ve already killed. Come join us and share the power of Sidramah. It is the only way.” The battlefield lay before him. Father, frozen on the ground. Joachim stood over him blood covered sword in hand. The dragon roared, spewing fire, engulfing Joachim. The prince ran to the dragon screaming. He had to get out of this place of evil. He couldn’t succumb to the evil. There must be a way out of this and away from Waldrom. He would let them think he had given up till he could find another way. The prince collapsed in a heap at the feet of the dragon, his charred body crying out for relief from the pain. His mother appeared. She caressed his wounds and chanted a healing spell. The burns faded. “Joa, come with me. All will be well. Just give into the power of Sidramah.” “No, I can’t. I will never….” She stopped stroking his burns. The wounds remanifested. He screamed again. The queen touched him again, healing him. “To be healed you must. Please?” Once more, Brandan and Waldrom stood before him. “I will do whatever you ask, Mother.” Joachim bowed his head in defeat. The dragon and visions faded. Joachim limped from the cave, his burns healed and all signs of his travails gone as if dreams. He stumbled on an exposed glingkol root and toppled to the moss-covered ground of the meadow. He couldn’t give into the evil. He couldn’t do as Mother, as Brandan asked. He must not succumb to the evil.

Will Joachim give into the evil or will the evil destroy him? The answers lie in Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One. There you can see the struggles of both Brandan and Joachim. How will the twin princes respond to their very different tests and what is the destiny of the world they live in?

 

To see more of Joachim and the role he plays in the fate of Ramajadin check out Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/young-adult/palace-of-the-twelve-pillars-detail

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Author Blog Post: Day 10

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Describe your process for outlining your book. What do you do to stay organized? Do you use a software like Scrivener? Index cards? Sticky notes? Giant posterboards taped to the wall?

I know yesterday I said I wasn’t going to use the prompts this week, but this one seemed appropriate for some of what I am going through with my current wip.

palaceofthethreecrosses200x300Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two was a book I attempted to outline. I like to tell this story whenever I get in a discussion about outlining-vs- not outlining. with PTC I had already written the first book in the series and I thought the third book was written, so easy peasy. I know where the story was and where I thought the story was going, so I write an outline. A lot of people told me you have to write an outline, its the only way to write a story.

I’m one week into November NANO. The story is not going anywhere. The characters refuse to tell their story. That writer’s block that I talked about in an earlier post reared it’s ugly head. I couldn’t write.

I threw out the outline and let Joachim and Brandan take control of the story. And boy did they take off. The story that they told ended up even better than the one I outlined. Of course changes had to be made in what I thought was the third book. And that little book that I thought was the third book, ended up as an excerpt in the third book, because I also realized that the story I was trying to tell was about Brandan and Joachim and not Airyn, Joachim’s son.

So anyway back to my original point and my dilemma with my current wip. When I have things laid out in a neat little package I feel limited, confined, constricted. That is the case with one of my current wip’s. I have the idea for a plot and characters that I have to include and a predetermined theme and I am feeling constricted. The story is still reeling itself out like a film, but the road is rougher, filled with more potholes that I need to navigate. I will get through it, because I must, but for me it is not the best way for me to work.

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As for my organization: Each of my wip’s has a notebook with all research material and critiques if it has reached that phase as well as anything else that pertains to the project. For my personal wip’s I have timelines on a whiteboard so I can keep the story straight and I know what should happen when and that I don’t repeat an event or have it show up in the wrong place. I’ve developed family trees so I can see who is related to who and maps so I can see where things are happening. I currently do all my writing in Word. I have heard so much about Scrivener that I am going to check it out.

Ramajidin Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two available at MuseItUp Publishing

and Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FAPW43G

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Author’s Blog Challenge: Day 8 and 9

 

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So I’m going to go off track here. Last week I worked with the suggested prompts, but this week I think I’m not going to. I have two very good reasons for not following the prompts this week.

The first is as you may have noticed I missed day eight. Yesterday I returned home from a wonderful four-day writer’s retreat. You are probably saying it was a writers retreat you should have been able to write a blog post, and you are probably right. In fact I did write Saturday’s while on the weekend, so I know it can be done. But as I returned home yesterday and eased back into the world the last thing on my mind was writing a post. I did start it but still raw from my experiences the words would not come.

I know that makes the weekend sound bad, but quite the contrary, the weekend was inspirational and I was still processing all that had happened and watching the Steeler game, but that’s a topic for another day.

So back to the writing weekend.Spending time out in nature, with other people of like minds is a very inspirational, motivational thing. Doing walking meditations, spending time with your characters and your stories will get you past any block you may have been experiencing. This is the second writing retreat I have taken. The first time I did it was last year on this same weekend. I definitely needed the refresher course, a weekend to refresh and renew and this weekend did that for me.

I have to admit that I did not take full advantage of the experience this year. I snuck on FB a few times and my husband and daughter texted me, but for the most part I was off the grid and it did help. Throughout this week I will share with you some of my experiences.

Now for the second reason I will not be doing the prompts this week: Yesterday was the second anniversary of the release of the second book in the Palace of the Twelve Pillars trilogy, Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two. If I had posted yesterday it would have been about this celebration.  Today I will share an excerpt and a review from the book.

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Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two

Rupert looked through the window in his tower room at the landscape of Wyrzburg. Months had passed since the Battle of Harable Valley and the spring planting season faded into the wonderful summer growing season. The land progressed in its healing and would soon be returned to its former state. As he turned from the window, he thought about the things that hadn’t healed…the twins. Brandan and Joachim still had a long way to go to erase the darkness that infected them. Joachim seemed better, but at night he still dreamed of Sidramah, and the doubts about what happened still haunted him. Brandan appeared even further from the boy that left to find his brother. The darkness appeared to follow him day and night. He withdrew to chambers as far away from Joachim as he could get.

Walking down the stairs to the great hall, Rupert remembered when the princes first returned; both had seemed healed and better than ever, maybe. But it appeared as if the tentacles of Sidramah still lingered. Any small opening the evil one could find, he exploited, and both boys were once again haunted by dark dreams.

 

Reviewed By Bil Howard for Readers’ Favorite

Palace of the Three Crosses, by Christina Weigand is a dark fantasy involving deep conflicts between three different species as they struggle for control of the land. Twins Brandan and Joachim return from being held captive by a darkness that has left them deeply scarred. Upon their return, they are forced to continue on following the death of their father and separation from their mother, while attempting to heal from the damage that was done deep inside them. As each of them struggles to find their bearings, and healing and restoration with Asha, they are forced into ruling the kingdom. With new wives, each is being drawn into a different direction by the woman at their side and the churning turmoil inside of themselves. The forces of Sidramah are leading Brandan further away from Asha through his wife, Magda (of the Mation species), while the forces of Asha are trying to restore and keep Joachim from being overtaken as his wife, Maeve (of the Kningrad species,) fights by his side to keep him from again falling into Sidramah’s darkness. Their kingdoms stand in the balance as the inner battles affect those around them.

Christina Weigand does a wonderful job of painting a portrait of the darkness that surrounds evil and, the often times, dim hope that sometimes is all that is left of goodness. Through this story of two brothers struggling to be restored to the goodness that once was theirs, the author examines deeper issues that often overwhelm those who can only see goodness dimly lit. Those around them become essential in helping them to find their destiny and true goodness. The character development and plot will have the reader hooked and turning pages with eager anticipation for the next fatal twist. Suspense and intrigue are thick throughout this novel, but always lingering about the surface is a feeling that goodness and hope will certainly win out.

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