Story — (Spark) The Origin of the Wilds

The world wasn’t always like this. This… green. At least, evidence points towards the contrary. The Wilds—the giant forests that cover the planet—are new. Older than any of us, of course, but new in the grand scheme of things.

A long time ago, humanity was widespread. You could walk across a city for an entire day and not see a single tree. And there was no need for walls back then, either, because we had nothing to be afraid of. Civilization might have even advanced to the point where we started looking to the stars.

But then of course, things changed.

The researchers at Trellin believe that the Wilds and its connection to the aether beasts are linked. When the Wilds started to grow and spread, aether beasts began to appear. Buildings that touched the clouds came down, and humanity was forced to run. To flee as the forests spread and ate the planet. Over time we’ve gained a little ground back, but we’ve never been able to answer that one big question.

Where did the Wilds come from?

At first we thought it might have been a rapidly spreading species of tree, spreading like a plague that was nearly impossible to kill. But that theory didn’t explain the aether beasts that followed in its wake. And since aether beasts are made rather than born, knowledge of their origin is even more dubious.

Maybe the Wilds was a biological weapon that got out of hand. A technology too advanced for our science to comprehend. Maybe the aether beasts are a product of that weapon. If that’s true, it was probably far more effective than it should have been. Both the Wilds and the aether beasts adapt and grow in response to their surroundings. This theory, outlandish as it might be, does hold some ground on that front. Rapidly changing the environment of one’s enemies in times of war could be quite advantageous.

But my favorite theory is the craziest of all. It’s not really supported by our current understanding of things, and it doesn’t actually explain where the Wilds came from, but it holds far more intrigue than the other two.

What if the Wilds was an aether beast, and the tree roots were all linked into one giant organism? Aether beasts are spawned from a seed, after all, and trees grow the same way. What if there was one seed that created the Wilds?

All these ideas sound ridiculous, I know. But researchers have been actively studying it for decades, and have very little in the way of facts. There are many who think that learning the secret of the aether is key to reclaiming our world.

Perhaps there’s still a piece of civilization out there somewhere that the Wilds didn’t touch, left crumbling in a state of severe disrepair. If there were, what would be the chances that the secret to the Wilds is there?

Again, I know it’s crazy, but there are some questions the world needs answers to. And I won’t rest until I find them.


Story — (Spark) Lady Aimee Calico

“I’m sorry, Zai. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not in our scope.”

“I implore you to reconsider, ma’am. Just think of how much easier all sorts of travel would be If we had a fully operational underground system that connected us to the northern world.”

Lady Aimee Calico put her elbows on the desk and pressed her face into her hands, trying her best to push the sleep from her eyes. Ecco snoozed near her in the corner of the office, not a care in the world. She missed the days when the furry little Ravess slept on her shoulder. Missed those days for a lot of reasons.

She turned her attention back to the young scientist. “You just want a research base to study the Wilds and its endemic life more closely.”

Zai, blushing a little. “I think the research could be very beneficial as well.”

“I admire your courage,” she said. “But a small field base in the middle of nowhere is bound to fail. A subway connecting Redview and Trellin is one thing. Those cities are much larger. Plus it goes against everything Lord Athril believed in. The whole purpose of the foundation of this city was to establish a self sufficient town independent of the north.”

Zai frowned, glancing at the portrait of the city’s late founder that hung on the wall near Aimee’s desk.

“No, my primary focus is the safety of Athril’s Edge. Which reminds me, I have to discuss next week’s border patrol with your father. The expansion is going to be happening soon, and I want it to be seamless. So next time you see him I’d like you to send him my way. Got it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.

“Alright, assuming you have nothing else you wish to discuss you should be on your way, I’ve important work to be done.” She found a pen and eyed the ever awaiting stack of paperwork on her desk.

“Actually, if you don’t mind my opinion on the matter,” Zai offered.

“What matter?”

“The expansion.”

“Speak your mind.”

He shifted uncomfortably for a moment before taking a seat opposite her. “Now, obviously this isn’t my field of study, but Cadri and I have been discussing the possibility of constructing walls around the lake-facing side of the city as well.”

Aimee grimaced. “Why in the world would we do that?”

“Well, to be honest I’m growing more concerned about the dangers of aquatic aether beasts.”

“It’s not going to happen, Zai. It would be a waste of resources to build that much wall and effective walls would hinder food production. We’ve been over this.”

“I know, but hear me out. We only build walls on the shorelines. The cliffs don’t need them. And we fortify the docks with constant patrols of tamed beasts. Minimal resource loss. Also, Cadri explained that we wouldn’t even have to build them to regulation height because no aerial threats would be coming from that direction.”

Aimee sighed. “We’ve been fine for years. The lake is half the reason we even picked this spot. We only have to defend on two sides and it’s a good source of food. No significant threat has ever come from the lake, and you’ve given me no reason to believe that that is likely to change anytime soon.”

The scientist looked like he wanted to say something, but either decided not to, or couldn’t put it into words. “It’s just a hunch.”

“I don’t have time for hunches, Zai,” Aimee snapped. “I have work that needs doing. And I don’t want you bringing this up again until you show me evidence that I should be concerned. got it?”


“Good. Don’t forget to have your father come see me.”

“Very well, ma’am,” Zai nodded before turning and leaving the office.

“Oh, and Zai?” Aimee said, looking up just as he opened the door.


She returned her gaze to her work. “It’s not going to work out between you and my sister.”

“I’m sorry?”

“You’re not her type. I’m just informing you now. Don’t get your hopes up.”

“Is that an order?” Zai asked.

She shook her head. “No, just an observation. Dismissed.”

The door closed without another word, and Aimee turned to her aether beast, who was still sleeping peacefully as usual.

“Becoming Lady of the city has ruined both of us, Ecco,” she told him. “You get too much sleep, and I get too little.”

She glanced back at the portrait of Lord Athril Mores. His chair was too big for her.

Story — (Spark) The Founding of Athril’s Edge

Athril Mores stood at the edge of the world, pondering the metal grave. Waves crashed below at a slow, thoughtful rhythm, like the heart of Naya breathing alongside him. Athril placed a hand on the grave as he looked out over the Gulf. “I will not forget your kindness, old friend. May you find your place among the aether.”

The sound of footsteps broke his reverie, and he turned to see the Calico sisters in their padded leather uniforms approaching him from the bottom of the slope.

“I hope we’re not disturbing you, Lord Athril,” Aimee, the older one said, saluting. The tiny form of a baby Ravess perched on one of her shoulders. Its feathers were much smaller than normal, almost like strands of fur, indicating an unusual subtype. Athril had seen the girl training with it a lot over the past few days. She was convinced the beast would become one of the next prime defenders of their little outpost. “We have some news to report.”

“No need for the formalities, just tell me what you want,” Athril sighed. The decade he felt like he had aged in the past few days came out as he said that. They were not the words of a leader come to conquer.

“We’ve finished mapping out the area,” Aimee continued. “The masons back at the camp think they have a solid wall design that can house over a thousand people.”

“Oh!” Cadri chimed in, brimming with excitement. “And with your approval, they say they can have the walls built within a month! And I also heard that they’re outlining ideas for future wall expansions, once we reach capacity. Athril’s Edge will be a bustling city in no time!”

Athril glanced back to the gravestone. “It’s called Greydale,” he muttered under his breath.

“I’m sorry?” Aimee said, taking half a step closer.

He turned around to address them. “This establishment is called Greydale. I didn’t mount this expedition and march halfway down the continent to take orders from the likes of you. There will be no talk of wall expansions. I don’t want Greydale to be a bustling city. It was never meant to be a bustling city. I picked this spot because we only have to defend ourselves on two sides. The further our breadth of walls, the more we area we have to protect and the greater risk we run of a breach and succumbing to the Wilds!” He took a breath and realized how tightly his hands were balled into fists. He had been yelling again. Damn.

The Calico sisters seemed a bit stunned at his outburst. Aimee regained her composure but was careful not to offend him again. “Apologies, sir. We’re sorry to disturb you. Rest assured that the aether beast population in the immediate area has been dealt with. There will be no expected danger to the encampment for the next several days, but we still have trainer patrols running perimeter constantly.”

Athril nodded. “Good.”

“Sir?” Cadri said, avoiding his gaze as she recovered from Athril’s rage. “T-the reason we came to see you. The wall designs? You’re the only one that can approve them.”

“I’m sure they’re no different from the walls at Redview or Trellin,” Athril said.

“Not quite, sir,” Aimee said. “The masons explained that the saltwater from the Gulf would erode the wooden supports in the walls much more quickly than in the north. If we made them using the conventional method they would fall into disrepair nearly three times as fast.” She frowned and scratched the back of her head. Her Ravess squawked in agreement, and she moved her hand to start petting it. “Or, something like that. With all due respect, it’s best you hear it from them, sir. They can explain it better than me.”

“Nothing is ever simple,” Athril sighed.

“Although,” she added. “Maybe you could discuss with them the possibility of making the walls out of pure concrete instead of segmented modules. If we don’t want to worry about future expansions, we don’t need to build the wall to be portable. We wouldn’t have to worry about the wood at all.”

“No,” Cadri said. “Walls aren’t modulated just to be moved. If they’re structured in chunks they are easy to replace in times of need. A portion can be torn down by wild aether beasts and replaced by a new one within a day if the new wall segment is ready to be implemented. The segmentation may make the overall strength of a wall weaker, but the beasts aren’t smart enough to capitalize on it, and the convenience of maintenance more than makes up for it.”

Athril nodded approvingly. That just about summed it up. “Have you ever considered masonry, Cadri?”

The girl shrugged, uneasy at the compliment.

Aimee grinned at her sister, then looked back to Athril. “Either way, you should discuss it with the masons, sir.”

“Alright, alright,” Athril said. “I’ll meet with them this afternoon over lunch. Anything else?”

“No, sir,” the girls said.

“Very well. Dismissed.”

The Calico sisters saluted again and retired back down the hill. Athril returned his attention to the grave and the Gulf beyond it.

“Oh! And sir!” Aimee shouted back. “If you ever need time to relax and… you know… forget… I know a few people. Just let me know and I’ll buy you a drink.”‘

“Much appreciated, Aimee,” Athril smiled as he called back.

Soon, the only sound was the rising and falling of the waves as they beat against the shoreline of the cliffs below. Naya herself voiced her approval of the settlement in the steady heartbeat of those waves. Not Athril’s Edge.


It wasn’t fame he was after. Naming the town after himself seemed ridiculously self-serving. Better to name it after somebody more selfless.

He nodded his thanks to the metal gravestone once more, then made to leave down the slope and into the campsite below.

The foundation of a city newly forged.

Me — Being a Creator

(This week’s audio recording: “Warstorm“, is one of my earliest Nacre Then successes. Despite it being nearly two years old, it’s evolved very little!)


One of the most difficult things about forcing myself to write a minimum of a thousand words a week is that sometimes I just have nothing to write. I realize that many established authors write over two thousand a day (most notably in my line of experience is Brandon Sanderson, who does more than that even) but I can’t hold myself to the level of incredibly wealthy and famous people. Sanderson himself explained that five hundred to a thousand per day five days a week is still a novel a year, and though most of my words are spent on this blog and not fiction, it’s still an accomplishment.

Right now specifically, I’m running into a multifaceted problem. Obviously, a writer should write something they enjoy. If you’re not excited to write it, you probably shouldn’t be. My head is currently filled with half-fleshed ideas that are either not ready to be written or are too large-scale for me to tackle, and the small stuff I can write quickly as a weekend story doesn’t really interest me. Here are the things that have my attention right now.

My primary focus is the third novelette in The Aftermath of the Rupture. I’ve got one major contradiction in it that I’ve yet to figure out, and until I know exactly how things will work I can’t even get started. On top of that, a moderate to severe change in the current canon of the society of Torreth is having me slow down a bit, even if those changes won’t see prevalence until the fourth novelette at the earliest.

My second larger project, and the most likely candidate for receiving the next longer story of ten thousand words, is another Spark story. My brothers and I have been giving it a considerable amount of attention these past few weeks, and there’s a story I can’t wait to get rolling. Since we don’t want to solidify anything in the actual plot of the game just yet, this will be another prequel, but it will have a considerable amount of worldbuilding in it. I hope to get it started some time during February.

Lastly, Lisa Stenton is always in the back of my mind. I really like the character and the mysteries she’s finding for herself, but I’m hesitant to jump into anything too quickly. For example, I want her parents to come home soon, but I don’t want to give the reader all the answers to everything immediately, and I’m unsure how to do that just yet. I like opening this box (world) slowly. One big question at a time. So, while I figure out how to introduce her parents, Lisa will be getting more and more lost as to what’s actually going on. (As a side note, when I wrote “Spiritwalkers” and “Suicide Note”, a lot of the big questions didn’t have answers at the time of writing them, but writing this next story, I am now equipped with pretty much all the answers. Even the ones to the questions I’m raising in it, and I’m actually pretty happy with where I’m taking it).

All that said, even when I can put myself into “writing mode”, its never easy. In all honesty I nearly gave up writing a full story yesterday, (and, if we’re going on technicalities, I still only wrote the first half), but a big part of being a writer is to do it even when it sucks, which is far too often. The whole point of the blog is to force me to write. If I give up, it means I’ve failed myself, and I can’t let that happen.

So rest assured that, even if I don’t publish as much fiction as I’d often like to, I do consider it the most important part of my blog, and I do have plans!


Story — (Spark) Road to Redview

Last Edited: Jan 19 2017


Iruna sat on the wall, feet rocking back and forth against the concrete. He gazed outwards into the Wilds, the green treetops overwhelming the landscape. The Garnet Hills and Sinodon Peak stood further away, far to the north. Those red slopes commanded a certain authority over the Wilds. Iruna always wondered why trees didn’t grow on the mountain. They grew everywhere else, after all.

“Excuse me,” somebody called from behind him. Iruna turned to see a woman with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a uniform of light green and white. “No civilians on the wall.”

“Oh,” Iruna said, getting to his feet. “Sorry, ma’am, I didn’t know.” He started walking in the direction of the stairs when he noticed something. Or, rather, the lack of something.

He swiveled around, glancing back and forth. Not again, he thought.

“What’s the matter?” the guard asked, brow furrowed.

“Sterling’s gone! I can’t believe he wandered off again!” Iruna was frantic now, but Sterling was nowhere to be seen. He started running, but the woman stopped him by putting a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder.

“Allow me to help,” she consoled. “Midwatch is a small place. Your friend can’t have gone far. What does he look like?”

“He’s a wisp. Just a wisp. He does this all the time. I have to find him before the train to Redview gets here!”

The woman crossed her arms. “You look a little young to have your Crafter’s license.”

“I’ve had it for over a month now! But… my mom says that’s not very long. She says that’s why Sterling keeps leaving. He doesn’t listen to me all the time.”

“And where is your mother?” she scanned the immediate area.

“Oh, my parents are back at Trellin,” Iruna shrugged. “We couldn’t afford more than one ticket round trip.”

“You’re here all alone?” she looked astonished.

“No! Sterling’s here! Somewhere. Can I go? I gotta find him.”

The guard looked concerned. “Well, I …. Your wisp is probably around nearby. You’ll find him without too much trouble.”

“Thanks!” he took a hurried step forward, then stopped. “What if he went into the Wilds?”

She grimaced. “There would be at least some sort of alarm if one of the ether was outside the walls.  Besides, a tame ether beast should know better than that,” she said.

Iruna gulped and nodded. Bolting down the stairs, he was fueled by a new fear that Sterling might be in danger. He hoped she wasn’t lying.

He ran through the narrow alleyways, looking for the wisp. Buildings were always set up close together to conserve space, which meant few open areas. Midwatch really was tiny compared to Trellin, and especially Redview. It was barely a village, only housing a few hundred people. But space was always an issue when civilizations had to be confined by walls. Looking for a little ball of energy would prove difficult and may take a while through these alleys. Maybe the train would be running late.

Iruna heard shouting. It was echoing from a nearby alley. It was the best place to start.

Skirting through the last two buildings, he came to a small clearing in between the houses and the south section of the wall. He was relieved to see Sterling there, but his exaltation evaporated as soon as he recognized the situation. The little blue ball of light bobbed gently up and down, surrounded by four kids. The kids were all jeering and shouting, and in the middle of the circle, across from the wisp, there stood a tall, imposing insectoid creature, covered in armored chitin. Two arms folded behind it’s back, relaxed, but its bladed arms were raised in an aggressive posture. A chitaphract.

Sterling had found himself in a duel.

“Hey, wait!” Iruna shouted. The two nearest kids turned to him, grinning. “That’s my wisp!”

“You hear that, Raz? This isn’t some wild monster that made it past the walls!”

One of the boys addressed Iruna. He looked to be the oldest of the group, easily four years Iruna’s senior.  He broke the circle to walk over to Iruna. “Oh, yeah? What’s a runt like you doing in Midwatch?”

Iruna looked to the two ether beasts. They weren’t attacking each other. It seems he had come just in time, and the fight hadn’t begun. “I… Sterling and I are entering in the tournament in Redview tomorrow. We have to go before the train leaves!”

The other boys laughed at that. “You’re planning on entering a tournament with this wimp?” Raz smirked. “It’s not even a real monster.”

“Yes he is! Look, I don’t want any trouble. Can we just go?”

“I’ll tell you what,” Raz furrowed his brow, as if deep in thought. “We’ll see for ourselves if your wisp is worthy for the big leagues. You beat ol’ Lancer here and we’ll let you go.”

Iruna clenched his fists. He had no idea how strong the chitaphract was, and he certainly didn’t want Sterling fighting the day before the tournament, but there was nothing he could do. He could only hope Sterling wouldn’t get too worn out.

Iruna nodded. “If that’s the only way.”

Raz’s smirk widened. “Fantastic.” He returned to the circle. “Lance, I want you to destroy this thing. Don’t let up.”

“Sterling,” Iruna replied from the opposite side of the circle. “Don’t hold back.”

“Go!” Raz shouted.

The chitaphract lept forward, swinging its arms up and slicing down towards its target. Sterling dodged to the side, but Lancer spun after, bladed arms arced  at the wisp. A strike  connected, ethereal goop spraying out from the little ball of energy.

“No!” Iruna shouted as the other boys cheered.

Sterling rushed forward into the chitaphract’s face, slamming into it and making it stagger backwards. As Lancer gathered his bearings, Sterling began to glow intensely.

A radiant blue blast pulsated out of the wisp, flowing like a tidal wave in all directions.  The wave of ether was nothing more than the tug of a strong breeze to the children, but . when it connected, the chitaphract was thrown back, landing several feet away and skidding across the dirt.

After a few moments, Lancer made an attempt to get up, but lost his footing and collapsed back to the ground.

The boys were silent now. Even Iruna was speechless. Sterling had never done anything like that before.

“C… come on Sterling,” he muttered, stunned. “We have a train to catch.”

Sterling followed as Iruna backed away from the circle. None of the boys made any move to stop them.

“Are you okay?” he asked as soon as they had distanced themselves.

The wisp glowed reassuringly in reply.

They walked down the main road of Midwatch, following signs to the stairs down into the subway. “It really worries me that you wander off sometimes,” Iruna said as they descended them. “You could find yourself in a lot of trouble. We’re lucky that chitaphract had low willpower, but next time it won’t be so easy.”

The sounds of Iruna’s footsteps started echoing as they got to the underground levels. Ether lamps illuminated the subway, and dozens of people were walking this way and that. A few of them were even wearing the military uniforms of both Redview and Trellin, which was to be expected. Midwatch didn’t have its own mayor, it was technically a part of both provinces.

The train to Redview was already here. Iruna jogged up to the door where the ticket inspector stood. He pulled the ticket out of his pocket and unfolded the crumpled piece of paper. Handing it to the inspector, the man made a second stamp next to the first. “You’re just in time, we’re about to depart,” the inspector said with a charming smile. Iruna smiled back and stepped onto the train.

Most ether beasts required a separate ticket and had to sit on the stables car, but wisps were an exception, since they were so small they rarely caused any disruptions. Iruna walked down the aisle and sat down on one of the padded seats, glancing out the window to see the dark underground tunnels lit by the occasional dull blue of an ether lamp. “We’re finally going to see Redview, Sterling. Isn’t that exciting?”

He turned and saw that the wisp wasn’t behind him. “Sterling?” he repeated as he heard the doors close and the train grumble into motion.

He swung back around, frantically searching for the little wisp. When was the last time he had seen him?

Just as he started to panic, the wisp floated gently into view from above.

With a sigh of relief, Iruna sat back down in his seat. “You’re the worst,” he huffed.

Sterling glowed brightly by way of reply.