The Illusion Conundrum, Part VI: Excerpt #3

Since we are into this NaNo-planning thing, how about an excerpt? I have shared pieces of this novel on my blog before, and it seems that people like where I’m headed at least. (Read the other excerpts at the tag.)

Later this week I’ll give you a rundown of what’s going on in this novel. But for now, have a teaser of one of my favorite characters: Kiroth, a man who saved the world a thousand years ago but who now wastes away waiting for . . . something.

Enjoy. :)


A man sat cross-legged on a blasted plain. His eyes closed, breath even. He felt the rocky ground beneath him, embraced the pain that zagged up through his lower back.

It’s finally beginning.

The wind tugged at the blood-red rags he wore. He no longer remembered whether the color had been the product of actual blood. It had been so long since he had cared about such frivolities. If it had once mattered, it certainly didn’t anymore.

The breeze became insistent. His hair whipped around his head, and the rags pulled against his bones.

“That’s not going to make me pay any more attention to you,” he murmured. The words felt like fire against his raw throat, gravelly from disuse.

The barest hint of a laugh tickled his ears.

He opened his eyes, and a young woman sat before him, amusement sparkling in lilac-colored eyes. Beneath her left eye, dark purple swirl-markes danced on her cheekbone, and her straight blonde hair that fell to just below her shoulders remained undistrubed by the breeze. She wore a simple emerald-green blouse over white breeches, which also didn’t twitch in the now-strong wind.

The man studied her smirk. This woman – older than her face belied – was one of the only reasons he was still alive to feel this wind on his stubbled cheeks. The same youthful face had been his companion for . . . it felt like a thousand years.

It had been a thousand years.

“Ceder,” he acknowledged.

She laughed out loud this time, and the very air around them sighed in a dancing echo of the joy in her voice. “Can you feel it, Kiroth? The wind is practically bursting.”

The man – Kiroth, yes, that had been his name for the past millennium – closed his eyes and opened his senses. The Roots – all of them, not just Wind – jostled his mind, restless sparks of energy flitting in and out of reach. Either the elemental building blocks of Ylpha were agitated, or it was his own thoughts that had stirred them into a frenzy.

But on the barest edge of his mind, so far in the distance that he could hardly feel it – a slight twinge of heat, of faraway rage. Coming closer at an alarming rate.

“Soon we’ll be able to bring Renn home,” Ceder trilled. The Siranha’nal – Wind Warrior, in what scholars now called the old tongue, or the tongue Kiroth had once spoken – clapped her hands, and the air tinkled merrily.

Kiroth winced at the name, but Ceder was gracious enough to pretend not to notice. The guilt was still too raw, even though a thousand years had passed. The guilt had stamped into his bones, twisted itself into a deep, unhealing shame somewhere in his gut. It was part of him now. Maybe the only part that had survived that millennia. Somewhere along the line, Kiroth had ceased to feel human, but his shame remained as a painful reminder.

“Yes,” he whispered.

And then it would finally be over.

The nagging heat at the back of his mind grew into a clamor of annoyance, anger. It was a familiar sensation, and he was deft at making sure he didn’t get swept up in the dull, aching reaction of rage from the Fire Roots around them. She had been of Fire. This pitiful mewling was nothing compared to the utterly wrathful clangor that had filled every inch of his skull the day she had died.

When Kiroth opened his eyes, Ceder’s thoughtful lavender gaze was trained on something over his right shoulder. He turned and looked up.

A young man stood there, still breathing heavily from his manipulation of Fire. It seemed that woman was still teaching them how to mirrorwalk – to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles with a single thought. The Roots were still agitated in an aura around the boy. He brushed a hand through his hair, and live embers scattered to the dry plain. One or two even ignited the brown grass as Ceder’s breezes grew in intensity. The child was full of blunt anger – Kiroth could feel it in the hiss of Roots around him. His red eyes held that and more as he glared at Kiroth and Ceder in turn. He couldn’t have seen more than twenty winters.

Kiroth shifted uncomfortably on the hard ground, feeling the pull of imaginary chains around his wrists. Real or imaginary – it didn’t matter. He couldn’t remember ever having been twenty years old.

The youth had a red ribbon tied around one arm.

Just like she had worn.

He also carried a crumpled bit of parchment in one hand.


Well, Kiroth can stop waiting now. Maybe. :) He’s one of my favorite characters to write because he’s so deliciously angry and sad. It’s easy to write emotional characters for me. Maybe it’s saccharine but I enjoy it.

Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!


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