Well, this has never happened before. After finishing the previous chapter, “The Aldashi Plain,” in a day, I’m writing the very next day to say I finished chapter 29, “The Aldashi,” of “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” What an exciting way to celebrate #WorldBookDay.
After only two more chapters. I’ll be done with the edit. That is a big motivator to just sit down and finish it. I anticipate these final two chapters will take a fair amount of work. I will very likely come back to the Aldashi chapters to make tweaks and add details about the Dark Wizards, for whom there is not a single scene.
By this point in the book, the relationships between my characters have grown. They trust each other. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are ready to pull together for the final push.
I like this chapter, along with the pervious one, a lot. It provides a respite for the group before they head into the most dangerous mission they have been on together. They have time for introspection. Especially, Coltan.
In the previous chapter, when the group entered The Aldashi Plain, Coltan battled with a repulsion spell—meant to keep demons from crossing the plain. While Criften was able to mitigate its effects, it told Coltan, in no uncertain terms, that he is a demon—not a man. I don’t think this would have bothered the Coltan who joined the group at the beginning of the book. He was a vampire. He had accepted that fact centuries earlier.
But something happened along the way. He was accepted into a group—which became a family. He remembered how to love. He developed a friendship with Gillan, and showed he would support her as the leader of the warriors—instead of trying to usurp her—when she lost her confidence and was was ready to quit. He and Malcan—whose ancestry includes vampire hunters—became brothers. The most profound was the relationship that formed between the vampire and a little girl—Mar. She showed him unconditional love, and even adopted him as her father.
In “The Aldashi,” when the group arrives at the Aldashi encampment, Coltan faces a whole camp full of people whose main purpose in life is to keep demons out of the plain. The Aldashi warriors stare at him with mistrust. When everyone else has dinner together, he is shunned from sitting at their fire. Everything reminds him that he is not a man.
Two of my favorite scenes fall back-to-back in this chapter—”Keeper of the Prophecies” and “I’m Not a Man.” In the first, Malcan rides alongside Freyl, the leader of the Aldashi warriors. Freyl does not understand Malcan’s relationship with Coltan. Here is a snippet from their conversation.
A quarter of an hour passed before Freyl asked curiously, “How can you stand to travel with a demon?”
Malcan took a calming breath. He glanced at Freyl. He decided he wasn’t being malevolent.
“He doesn’t really act like a demon. I’ve stopped thinking of him as anything but a man.”
In the very next scene, Coltan talks to Malcan about his thoughts since arriving on The Aldashi Plain.
“It reminded me, I’m not a man. I don’t want you to forget that. If anything happens to Criften—if his taming spell goes away—you have to protect the others.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to Criften,” Malcan said emphatically.
“Listen to me, Malcan,” he went on intently, just above a whisper, “I need to be able to trust you on this. You have to promise me that you’ll kill me. I don’t want to hurt any of you.”
By the time my readers get to these chapters, I hope they can understand the conflicted emotions going on in Coltan’s mind. This is the message I’m trying to present: the outsider—the other—trying to find his place.
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