The Game of Gold part 1

The Game of Gold is the third of the Games of the Mines, an annual festival celebrating Tanniin's most famous hero, El-Windiir, for the critical role he played in the war of the Malikuun against the Sheituun, or the Lords of Light against the Lords of the Pit. 

Even though it is the third game, it is the most dangerous and the deadliest of all four games. The object of this game is to retrieve the golden masks, which are usually hidden in the Hall of Statues where lies a gold sculpture in the effigy of the dragon-god Tanniin. Even though the hall is filled with numerous statues of pure gold and are left unguarded, no thief has ever attempted to steal them because of the persisting belief that they are dreadfully cursed. 

To Be Continued

Andaxil

pexels-photo-eiffel tower.jpeg
The dwarfs, having carved the mines, knew them better than anyone else. Yet, the mines remained shrouded in mystery, as though the mountain housed ancient beings of great power deep within its bosom.
— Philology of the Dwarfs, Anonymous

Andaxil is to the dwarfish nation what the Eiffel Tower is to France, the Statue of Liberty to the United States, or tea to the Britons. It is at once a symbol of their unity, the flagship of their power, and the basis for numerous idioms and expressions.

Here are some examples of such usage: A dwarf who believes he is being conned could said, "Don't you Andaxil me with your wishful wishes."

"Where, in the Andaxil, did I lose my axing ax?" is common when dealing with misplaced objects.

"My Andaxil, she is beautifully beautiful and beyond beauty," is another expression used to compliment parents on the birth of a she-dwarf. Comparing the comeliness of a dwarf to Andaxil is a praise of the highest order.

And yet, no one—no dwarf from living memory—has ever laid eyes on the lost cave called Andaxil, and no one truly knows what mystery lies dormant behind its cursed walls.

THE GREATEST EVIL

To prevent anyone from reopening the Pit of the Abyss, the Temple will curse anything that reeks of magic. Some priests have been accused of larceny, embezzlement, or profiteering. Others have been guilty of racketeering, threatening to curse the innocent unless hefty payments were made. The Temple is aware of all this and never fails to punish the guilty. Yet, this evil is nothing next to the opening of the Pit.
— Teachings of Oreg, High Priest of Baal
pexels-photo-192642 (1).jpeg

The Temple of Baal's conception of the cosmos places the Pit at the epicenter of the world. Above it, the deep sea, and above the sea, the land; frail, fragile, and in need of protection. Beyond the land, high up in the sky, is Shamash, the abode of the sun-god Baal, where his priests hope to rest after years of toil and dedication.

Among the Temple’s collection of artwork, a large fresco depicts a white stone, the lid that the Lords of Light used to seal the Pit under the deepest part of the sea. Four priests of Baal stand guard on the slab: a Methodical, a Shoghol, a Kerta, and an Adorant. They represent the four orders of the Temple, who work tirelessly to keep the lid sealed. In this fresco, they stand with their arms raised, hands open. From their combined efforts, a beam of light shoots through the water and up into the stars, wherea being of power descends like a hawk: the Seer of Power. He is represented with a murderous expression, ready to destroy the lid and free the Lords of Chaos.

 

Commander of the Silent

It would be unreasonable to assume that the Commander knows about every threat against the Kingdom of Tanniin. After all, he is but one man. No, it would be preposterous to suggest that he was aware of every plan and machinations fomented by far away palaces and castles. But it would be foolish to suppose that the Silent Corps, as an organization, is limited to one person; this stern, stoic, and unflinching man. For, as the head of the Silent, as their uncontested leader, the Commander has a far-reaching view and is better prepared than anyone to ward off the dangers that swirl about like monsters of the deep in murky waters. 

Then again, no one should underestimate the cunning of Sharr or his steely patience and willingness to do everything in his power to subdue the Seer of Power. So then, the wisest among us might well conclude that the outcome of the war to come between the Temple and Tanniin will be decided by the Commander's ability to counteract the plans of the Master of Babylon. In this, Tanniin may take solace, for Sharr  plans alone, whereas the Commander relies on the independent action of the Corps.

And the Corps never disappoints.

Throughout my years of service to the Empress, I have met many remarkable men—some I have admired, some I have loathed. None have won my respect as much as Commander Tanios, for he gave us a measure of courage and integrity that is truly exceptional.
— Diplomatic Notes of Uziguzi, First Adviser to Her Majesty Aylul Meïr Pen, Empress of the Empyreans

What exactly are the Games of the mines?

“The Games of the Mines were a great invention of the Kingdom of Tanniin, preserving their national pride and identity. Year after year, the Games reenacted El-Windiir’s victory, and year after year, the team from Baal won, reminding the Tanniinites that Baal was their master and they, his servants. To this end, Baal sent the finest juniors of the High Riders to win the Games.”
— Teachings of Oreg, High Priest of Baal
“The Games were initially conceived to honor El-Windiir’s remarkable victory over the Lords of the Deep. The team with the greatest endurance, physical stamina, perfect self-control, determination, and focus would win.”
— Principles and Rules for the Games of the Mines, The Great Judge Bayrul III
“The Games? A paradox, I say. A rigged cry of freedom, a deadly doorway to freedom, an illusion of reality, a concrete illusion. A marvelous remembrance of El-Windiir’s fate, the Games would kill any participating slave. After all, if the King sets all the slaves free, who would cook the chicken and clean the parsley?”
— Soliloquy of Zuzu the Hip, Jester of the Royal Court of Tanniin

Storm over the Blight

I'm 120 pages away from finishing The Cup of Eleeje, the fourth book in the Epic of Ahiram.

I never really know where the story is going until I actually start writing. Right now, two protagonists are standing on a snowy balcony, somewhere along an impossibly high structure.

 
 

It's nighttime and a storm is brewing in the distance. Angry lashes of a fractured thunder lace the surface of the Blight. Deep below the lake, the Spell-World seeps into the real world, and the rising flow of magic reaches its surface, turning it into a golden murky syrup. The magic rises still and turns the icy storm into a chaotic, curse-filled mass, sundering the skies with the disquieting whispers of the Spell-World. Snow begins to fall. It falls bright green and when it reaches the Blight, the snowflakes crystalize and turn into diamond-shaped spells that drop in the lake and into the hungry mouths of bright red fish that roil the thick surface as they fight furiously to catch as many of the small green diamonds as they can.

Tomorrow, after the storm subsides, spell-fishers from the coastal cities of Feriaz and Estafan will rush into the murky Blight. They will cast their nets and gut the catch, keeping only the eggs and throwing the flesh back into the water. They will ferment the eggs into potent spells, to be sold on the black market.

A peal of thunder lights up the darkness, and our two protagonists glimpse a herd of flying curses circling up in the roaring sky. Into this madness, they are ready to go. To what end, and for what purpose? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out as soon as I take up writing again this afternoon. Then we'll see what we'll see and find out how far the Epic will carry me into the world of Ahiram.

Baher-Ghafé

Some say Baher-Ghafé means ‘the slumbering giant who keeps watch in his dreams.’ The name is ancient, predating the Wars of Riharon and the coming of Tanniin. Sureï the Sorcerer told me the mighty Baal stood on the shores of this little village, after having subdued Yem, and ordered him to sleep.
— Teachings of Oreg, High Priest of Baal
Baher-Ghafé, O slumbering giant, watchful day and night. Waiting. You who brought us glad tidings; a Seer, to see what we may not. How I wish I could gaze on your blessed Shores again.
— Memoirs of Shalimar the Poet

Archery in the Epic

Archery is integral to the Epic of Ahiram. The Silent Corps does not use bows and arrows, but prefers darts, which are better suited for the type of missions it typically conducts. Still, other military corps rely on archers quite heavily. 

Organized armies, like that of the Temple, the Empyrean, or the Marada, have field archers. Field archers carry short bows and one or two quivers, each holding thirty to sixty arrows. In open combat, on fields of battle, field archers form specialized units in the infantry. Their mission is to degrade the enemy riders’ capabilities, or cover their own riders during an attack. Otherwise, field archers man fortified walls and are the first line of defense a city has against approaching enemy forces.

If Coffee Smells Like Tea...

Do you like coffee? Or the smell of coffee? Notice that we don't ask this question about tea. You drink tea, or you don't. Why is that? I haven't the faintest idea. If you ever go to Tirkalanzibar, the City of Caravans in the Epic of Ahiram, you should never accept a cup of coffee if it smells like a cup of aromatic jasmine tea. That's because it's not coffee but Kashay, a drink concocted by mixing jasmine tea with powerful curses. Jasmine, apparently, is the only aroma that can hide the stench of a curse. On second thought, while in Tirkalanzibar, don't accept any drink from any stranger, under any circumstance.

How to Visit the Kingdom of Mycene and Stay Alive: Part Six

Do not, and I mean do not, venture north of Karian. 

You'll hear amazing stories about super-healers in Katele. You'll be told that healers there are kind-hearted and do not seek riches; you'll even be told they can resurrect the dead.

But north of Parithene, if you were to leave behind the pleasant rolling hills where shepherds pasture their sheep, and if you dared descend into Metranos (Serpent's lair) a maze of thousands of canyons, you would discover a side of Mycene you never knew existed. 

Chances are, you would be bewildered, enchanted, enthralled, and overjoyed by what you see. You could chance upon magical artifacts powerful enough to threaten the Temple. 

But you would never use them, at least not as they ought to be used.

You might even throw them away or forget them. 

Most likely, you would never manage to leave Metranos.

And if you did, the Temple would leave you alone. The High Riders would not come after you, and the slave merchants would run away from you.

You would be irreparably insane, and the best part? You won't even know it.  

So if you venture into Mycene, ignore the enchanting voices that call you to Metranos, and stick to the coast. Even the treacherous westerly coast, bane of tall ships and scourge of fishermen, is better than the northern part of the country.

How to Visit the Kingdom of Mycene and Stay Alive: Part Five

If you're traveling to Mycene seeking a medical cure, you've got two choices: Blitondo, on the coast, is safe and accessible. It also boasts the greatest physicians across all sixty-two kingdoms. It's pricey though, and since it’s the destination of many high priests of the Temple, you'd better be on the up-and-up with the Temple, or else you might end up fodder for their experiments.

If you're seeking less scrutiny or a cheaper price, you'll need to venture further north, away from the coast, to Karista. Some say the best healers are at Karista. Others call them sorcerers. It's your choice, your money, your health.

Lastly, I'll tell you why you should stick to the southern coast. No matter what, do not venture north of Karista. NEVER venture north of Karista.


How to Visit the Kingdom of Mycene and Stay Alive: Part Four

Now that we've dispensed the touristy stuff, here's where you should go:

Mycene’s southern coast is sandy and warm, easily accessible and open to the sea. It is there that most of Myceneans live, in a string of city-ports covering two-hundred and fifty miles. 

If you're into the Temples of Baal, you should take the organized tour through the cities of Thalos, Ndafos, and if you're lucky you might venture as far east as Kyrn, where you could get a panoramic view of the Empyrean territory. Don't forget to ask for the special deal on incense for your offerings at the Temple, or else you'll pay them ten times their price.

If you're going to Mycene for the night life, then Singatava and Este are your destinations. Singatava sports the greatest number of taverns and dance halls, and it holds a huge market that stays open all year long, day and night. I recommend Palatinos for the best fried shrimp and Marina for the greatest ambience. For those who prefer off-beat, more rustic amusements, Eritanos and Azinbra are safe bets.

Book Two Coming Soon

Here is the drop card that was distributed at Comic Con, announcing the coming of the second book  in Epic of Ahiram:

   

 

 

Wrath of the Urkuun (ur*koon) picks up where Age of the Seer left off.  Reunite with your favorite characters as Ahiram faces new challenges, great enemies, and an unknown future. Travel across the kingdoms, discover foreign languages, and most of all, meet up with the elite Silent Corps as they engage in their unexpected missions.

Comic-Con Continued

Team Ahiram at Comic-Con, July 2015

Team Ahiram at Comic-Con, July 2015

 

For some, spending the weekend down in San Diego among huge crowds and handing out drop cards might not sound like a wonderful idea. But for us?

It was epic

Well, more like crazy, but when you're on the Team, you get used to that pretty quickly. Our goal for Comic-Con this year was to hand out 7,000 drop cards to the thousands of people there, promoting the coming of the second book in the Epic of Ahiram; Wrath of the Urkuun

Of course, that included a good dose of hanging out with the other teens from the Team, meeting celebrities, taking selfies with people in fantastic cosplay, hunting down coffee, and mingling other fantasy fans.

While all that was totally awesome, it was rather hard trying to not get distracted with the amount of costumes, events, and other advertisements that were going on.

Thankfully we've had plenty of practice dealing with distractions at our bi-weekly meetings (thanks Michael), and we successfully met our goal of distributing 7,000 cards during our two days there.

Comic-Con was just one of the many adventures that the Epic of Ahiram has led us to, and I know with absolute certainty that there'll be more to come. 

And they'll be totally epic. 

Hannan,

teen member

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Visit the Kingdom of Mycene and Stay Alive: Part Three

In the previous two posts, I've told you some basic and boring stuff about Mycene.  I then told you what not to do if you don't want to be spotted as a vulnerable tourist. 

But there's one more way in which Myceneans will spot you as a tourist: 

The'll ask you about the Gulf of Tanniin. If you can't tell them how it was formed, you're a tourist.

And tourists typically lose their purses, shirts, and sanity to robbers, so read on and pay attention.
 
According to local lore, the gulf separating Mycene from Tanniin was once firm land until Lamatanniin, the great dragon of old, tore the ground and burned it with his fiery breath, then flooded it with the Great Sea. It gave rise to the Gulf of Tanniin. He left behind the jagged Mycenean coastline of high cliffs and bluffs. The western coast only has Ezoi as a serviceable port, which has become the bane of tall ships and the scourge of fishermen.

If you're asked to go to Ezoi, close your hands, palms together, bow down three time, smile and shake your head. Ezoi is not a touristic destination. Mostly, it's used by ferry workers, soldiers, and slaves between Mycene and Tanniin. It's a small hamlet nestled between high and narrow cliffs and is buffeted all year long by a strong wind that whines like a sickly dog. Not worth it. Nothing to see.

Next-up, the fun stuff. I promise I'll tell you how to enjoy yourself in Mycene.

 

How to Visit the Kingdom of Mycene and Stay Alive: Part Two

Mycene2.jpg

“Alright, now that we've dispensed with the basic stuff, let's talk about how to stay alive as a tourist in Mycene. First thing first: there are dumb tourists and smart tourists. A dumb tourist is a dead tourist. A smart tourist is one who follows my advice.

Here's how Myceneans can tell if a man is a tourist: he wears a toga, his head is shaved, and he sips from a gourd while he strolls on the beach.

Togas are worn in Mycene only during two religious ceremonies. I won't tell you which ones; you'll forget and it’s not important for you to know. All you need to know is DON'T WEAR TOGAS. 

A fully shaved head in Mycene is reserved for the high priests. You're no high priest or else you would be walking accompanied. So don't pretend to be one. Don't shave your head. 

Myceneans find it extremely rude if someone is walking and sipping because in Mycene— as elsewhere, so you should know that— masters sip while slaves stand by. If you walk around and you're sipping from a gourd, you're telling every passerby who is not sipping a drink that they are slaves. So don't do it.

If you are a woman, don’t wear white, don’t wear black and don’t wear a necklace as a head-cover. White is for wives of priests, black is for priestesses and necklace over the head is for the type of service you do not care to offer. Wear a dress above the knee if you would like to be confused with a sacred slave to the Temple of Harides, the goddess of love and good fortune. Wear a sleeveless dress if you’re pretending to be a maidservant to a childless mistress. Finally, if you’re walking, do not talk: slaves are forced to talk and walk, while their mistresses enjoy the landscape. So enjoy what you see, and wait until you're in a private setting to talk about it.

One last thing: wear no more than two rings per hand, no more than two earing and no more than two necklaces. The number two is considered a sign of modesty; one is a sign of authority and three a sign of wealth. So, unless you’re walking surrounded by bodyguard, stick to two.

Next: what you should know if you're going to keep your purse.”