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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XII: SITREP - Half done with Book Three

Here's the handy-dandy graphic:

The first half of Book Three - Leonis went fairly quickly, I thought.  It's about the coming of Virgo to Leonis, their sister world in the Beta System, and the establishment of a unifying presence there.  I don't want to say too much, but suffice it to say that the people who led Virgo after its colonization were far better about passing along technology and knowledge than just about any other world in the colonies.  The second half continues this story a century later as Leo is more fully a vassal of Virgo and how the world breaks free of that rule, leading to a thousand years of conflict.

As Leonis has always been an analogue for France and Virgon England, I'm trying to keep a linguistic symmetry, so most of the places and names on Leo at the time of Virgo's arrival are Gaulish, minus as much Latin influence as I can muster.  The Virgo speak Latin but that is on its way out as Old English is on the rise back home.  In later books, I will transition names and words to Old English, Old French, Middle English, etc., over the centuries.  This is by no means important; it's just flavor.

Want a taste?  Here are a couple of chapters from the first half of Book Three after the JUMP.

614 Years After Colonization

When the crack of light fell over his face, he knew it was time to rise.

The old man sighed and sat up in bed.  The morning air was chilly, but better than yesterday.  He looked at the fireplace and saw that the coals were now completely gray.  He shook his head and walked across the room, naked, and put several logs inside the brick structure.  I will light it later.

After he dressed, Nisolos went to the outer room and removed a couple of sausage links from the cabinet.  He preferred them warm, but he knew this could be a long day.  He walked to the front door and removed the wooden beam from it.  When he opened it, he looked across his land and took in a deep breath.

There were dozens of rows of green leafy vines.  They stretched to the top of a ridge in the distance.  He walked out onto the porch and looked to the right.  The storehouses were empty and waiting.  On the other side of that, the storage vats and crushing pens.  He was alone on his farm until the grapes were ready, then he would send out the messages to the village and others nearby.  Today might be the day.

Nisolos walked across the dewy grass and down the small slope to the creek at the edge of his property.  He braced himself on a wooden arch and began to tug at the rope with his other hand.  Once he could grasp the bucket, he turned it over, pouring the water back into the stream.  He lowered it again, filled it, and raised it up.  With a wooden ladle on the side of the arch, he scooped water from it and gulped it down.  It was ice cold and made him shiver, but he powered through it.  After three such ladles, his head throbbed and he put the bucket back into the creek. 

With effort, he moved to the the southeast corner of his vines.  He took the cane that was there and walked among the rows.  The clusters of red and purple grapes looked much the same as yesterday.  Nisolos stopped at a grouping near a wooden frame and plucked one.  The stem was not yet brown but looking at the orb with his elderly eyes, he couldn't really see anything else.  It was a habit after decades of doing this work.  He popped it in his mouth and felt its plumpness.  Then he chewed.  The juice splashed against his tongue and cheeks.  It was sweet … Not sweet enough.  He spat out the flesh and seeds of the grape and leaned closer to the cluster.  He nodded as he verified that the stems were still a bit too green.  There were plenty of grapes to check, though.

For the next half hour, he walked up and down the rows, tasting no more than three from each.  Some groups were ready; some were not.  He hadn't gotten halfway through the field when he knew he could send the message today and have everyone show up tomorrow.  The ones that weren't quite ripe today may very well be tomorrow.  Still, he continued his course through the rows.

Nisolos neared the northwest corner of his land and he stood on the ridge.  He looked at his home in the distance and he looked east, down the slope, toward the creek.  He smiled and took in a deep breath.  This was his favorite moment of every harvest.  The solitude of looking at his crop and knowing that it would all change the next day.  Knowing that the other half of his farm would spring to life.  He smiled and patted the wooden frame under the last vine of grapes before he began to march down the ridge.  It was now nearly lunch time and he had been saving some bread.

He heard thunder.  He stopped in the middle of his grapes and looked into the sky.  There were clouds, but they were all white.  Nisolos narrowed his eyes and turned in a circle.  More white clouds.  He was about to resume his walk to the house when he saw some movement in the distance.  He thought it was a bird, but when he focused on it, he realized that it was much larger and coming toward him.

He gripped his cane tightly and walked up the slope to the ridge.  It was a kind of long, dark gray box.  Steam seemed to pour from behind it as it flew and then fire leapt from its face.  Nisolos stumbled as it roared, but the box slowed and began to settle in a clearing next to the forest.  The vintner watched carefully as more steam erupted from the thing and it finally landed in the tall, flowing grass.  Then, the side of the box opened.

He had denied that his eyes were in decline for years, but now he damned them and himself.  He could see figures emerged from the thing and they moved on the ground.  They started to come up the slope toward him and, finally, his vision cleared.  He blinked over and over again before he fell to his knees.  They looked for all of the world like people.  Some wore bright colors and some wore shining metal.  One carried a blue flag with a white triangle on it.  Some of them had swords at their sides. 

Nisolos dropped his cane and prostrated himself before these people.  With his forehead in the grass of the ridge, he started to murmur and pray, "Please, Ambisagrus.  Spare me and my home.  I praise you!"

The visitors were whispering among themselves and a man dressed in a bright blue shirt with black pants stepped closer.  "Salvete."

Niselos didn't look up.  "I worship you, Lord Ambisagrus and your people.  May the gods have mercy upon me."

"Intelligisne?"  The old man continued to babble and then he was startled when he felt someone take his arm.  "Surge sursus."  He was being raised to his feet.

A woman bent low and lifted his cane.  She smiled at Nisolos and handed it to him.  With his eyes wide and his mouth open, he looked across their faces.  They looked like regular people.  There were men and women, some dark and some not.  Nisolos nervously laughed and he was pleased when he saw the visitors chuckle, too. 

The man who had lifted him clasped his hands and said again, "Intelligisne?" 

Nisolos kept his smile but he had no idea what was being said. 

One of the women said, "Vos scitis quod non."

The leader looked behind at the others and said, "Ego experiri."  They laughed and he faced the old man again.  He took a deep breath and said, "Katano … sai?  Um, èpístasai to nun?"

Nisolos blinked and tilted his head.  "That sounds like …"  He looked toward the forest and the road that led into the village.  He looked back at the group, and still not understanding, he shrugged.

"Optimum," someone said.

"Quid faciemus iam?" another asked.

The leader sighed and a woman said, "Facietque triangulum."

He nodded and, with his thumbs and forefingers, made a triangle.  "Scis?"

Nisolos beamed.  He wasn't wrong before.  He had heard the second language they spoke, but he didn't know it well enough to recognize it fully.  But this … "Yes!  Yes!"  He nodded and waved the group toward him. 


"Qui imus?"

The leader shrugged and pointed at the old man.  "Secamus eum."  He turned and looked at the flag bearer and a couple of the armored men, "Ite ad navem.  Nos ad se tardius."  They saluted and went down the slope to their long, gray ship.

The group walked down the ridge and into the vines.  The vintner didn't see it, but a couple of the visitors picked grapes and ate them.  They quietly smiled and even pocketed a few. 

Soon they were out of the field and approached the small wooden path that led to the main road.  Nisolos stopped, though, and looked back.  "Wait."  He raised his hands and said again, "Wait."  As quickly as he could, he went into the house and took a small wooden cask from a shelf.  Clumsily, he scooped up a couple of drinking bowls and exited the house.  "Here."  He tried to hand the bowls to them and the woman in blue and silver got it.  She took one of the drinking bowls and gave the other three out.  Nisolos pointed at his vines and said, loudly, "I make this."  He pulled the stopper out of the cask and poured wine into the bowls.  Those with the bowls raised them to their noses and they sniffed.  Their eyebrows went up and they sipped carefully.  Then, once they tasted it, they shared a look and downed the rest.

The leader handed his empty bowl to another man and said, "BonumIpsum bonum!"  Once those who hadn't tried it before took an empty vessel, Nisolos happily poured more. 

When everyone had some, the old man closed the cask and gave it to their leader.  "For you!  Do you serve Sucellos?  It is for you."

He smiled and took it with a bowed head.  "Gratias tibi."

Nisolos grabbed the head of his cane and walked to the road.  He waved them after him, and soon, they were walking the main path into the forest.

Behind him, under the canopy of trees, the visitors spoke.  "Viridi."  "Hmm."  "Est adeo viridi."  "Quam caeli caerula tantum est."

The path soon widened and there was a clearing in the forest.  Buildings were situated around the trees and, in some cases, had trees growing through them.  They were adoringly colored and decorated with the nature around them.  There were homes, marketplaces, businesses, and an open space with a level ground for sport.  On the far side of the clearing, there was a structure built around a wide tree.  There was a door carved through its trunk and the rest of the building was made of stone.

"Brivas," Nisolos said.  He waved the visitors forward and they walked through the street and looked with joy on everything they saw.  Woodworkers, farmers selling vegetables that were unknown to them, simple clothiers.  As entranced as they were with the village of Brivas, the residents were moreso.  They saw these tall people wearing bright clothes or armor and they gathered around.  The leader saw the crowd and grew nervous.  He looked around again until his eyes landed on the stone building with the tree façade.  He pointed at it and the old man said, "Yes, the nemeton.  Come."

It took some effort, but they moved through the people and approached the building.  A man in a long green robe emerged from the tree entrance and looked with confusion on the strangers and the mass that followed them.  "Who are these people?"

"Visitors from the sky, druidh!"  Nisolos turned and put his hand on the back of the man.  "This is the leader."

"Visitors from the sky?" the priest mumbled.

"I saw it!" Nisolos said.

The leader looked at the man's robe and formed a triangle with his hands.  "Èpístasai morphé?"

The priest's eyes widened and he nodded.  "Suniemi."

The visitors laughed and the leader walked up the wooden steps.  He was taller than the priest of Brivas and he smiled at him.  "Entos?"

Now the priest smiled and gestured.  The visitors all walked up the steps and the one holding the wine cask looked at Nisolos and said, "Gratias!"

When the door to the temple closed, some of the crowd dispersed and the rest stood there, waiting.  Nisolos sighed and looked around.  Now that I'm here, I can get workers for the harvest tomorrow, I suppose.

614 Years After Colonization

He entered the sanctuary and stood aside to let the visitors file in.  They looked up and followed the lines of the tree's branches that formed the ceiling.  At its center, above the room, the beams and branches formed a triangle.  Then they looked at the windows and the wooden carved benches that filled the room.

The priest worked to recall the language of the Old Times, the language of the old books and scrolls.  "Please.  Sit."

The leader nodded and chose a bench near the far side of the room, by the pulpit.  As his people sat around him, the priest took a chair from the dais and placed it facing the benches.  "I am Dugilios, druidh of Brivas, our village."

The man in a shimmering blue shirt said, "I am Lucas.  I command the ship that brought us here."

The priest's eyes widened.  "So Nisolos was correct.  You came from the sky."

The leader squinted.  "Nisolos.  The old man?"  Dugilios nodded and they smiled.  "He makes a good drink."

"Wine.  We call it wine."  Lucas looked away in thought.  "Where are you from?"

He looked toward the ceiling.  "The sky.  The stars.  We call our world Virgo."  As Dugilios tried to comprehend this, Lucas asked, "What do you call yours?"

It was a question that the priest never had to consider.  "It is just 'Dumno.'  The world."

"We call it Leo."

"Leo," Dugilios repeated.  "The old tales are true?  There are other worlds and there are people upon them?"

"Yes.  Do you know of the books from Kobol?  From the people who came here?"

The priest thought and nodded slowly.  "We know the writings of Gideo, the priestess who emerged from the Blaze with the word of the gods on her tongue."

Lucas smiled.  "Gideon was her name."  He looked around the sanctuary and studied the columns and the stone walls.  He said something to the woman next to him and she left the group and began to walk the perimeter.

"How did you come to us?" the priest asked.  "Dumno is large."

"It is," their leader said as he watched the woman's walk.  "We were given a map many years ago.  It was left for us by our priests."

"Oh.  You have priests, too."

He scoffed.  "Of course we do."  Lucas' face went grim and he asked, "Tell me.  Do you worship the gods of Olympus?  Jupiter?  Juno?  Mars?"

Dugilios looked confused.  "He worship several gods but these are names I do not know."  Again, the leader's face was dark.  "We hold Ambisagrus most high."

"Ambi …"

"Ambisagrus."  Lucas shifted in his seat and seemed uncomfortable.  The priest was unsure what was wrong, but he continued.  "He is the lord of lords.  He commands the home of the gods and the sky.  He commands lightning and thunder."

Finally, the mood of his visitor broke and he smiled.  "I see.  We worship the same gods but with different names."

"Ah.  Who is Ambisagrus to you?"

"He is Jupiter.  The lord called 'Zeus' on Old Kobol."  The leader nodded and looked at the woman.  She glanced back and shook her head.  "The map we were given speaks of the Stone of Kobol.  Does this mean something to you?"

"'Stone of Kobol.'"  He shook his head.  "I am sorry.  I do not know this name."

"The map said it would be here."  Lucas stood and began to walk toward the pulpit.

"What is this Stone of Kobol?"

Lucas placed his hand against his waist.  "It is so high and carved from the rock of Olympus itself.  It has been hollowed and is filled with the secrets of the gods.  Words that are intended for us."

Now Dugilios was confused.  He stood and faced the leader and asked, "For you?"

Lucas laughed.  "For all to benefit.  But for the priests to read."

"My forgiveness.  Are you a priest?"

He bowed at the waist and said, "I am the high priest of science at our capital in Buskirk.  I am a member of the Trinitatis, a council that advises our king."

Dugilios nodded again as he tried to absorb the new information.  "A king."

"Are you a member of a local trinitatis?  A council of three?"

The priest thought for a moment and said, "I suppose so.  Once each month, I visit with the matron of Brivas and a representative of the merchants and farmers."

Lucas nodded and stood next to the cloth-draped lectern that was used for each service.  Sun streamed in from the windows behind them and warmed the room.  Yellow and orange light danced over the dais and played on the embroidery in the lectern's covering.  He picked up the edge of it and studied it.  When he did, he saw the stone pillar underneath.  His eyes widened and he threw the cloth off.  Papers and a candleholder spilled to the ground and Lucas said, "Ecce!"

The visitors rushed to his side and Dugilios moved toward him.  "What is it?"

"The Stone of Kobol."  He looked at the priest and asked, "Did you not know what this is?"

"It was the founding stone of this nemeton.  It has been here for centuries.  All priests speak from it."

Lucas wiped his hands along the top section of the stone.  An old, wooden plank was fitted to the top and came off easily, revealing the inscription below.  He then ran his fingers down the side and found a groove.  He waved his men forward and they gripped the sides of the stone and lifted it up, straining.  The top came free and Dugilios stumbled in shock at the sight. 

"What is this?"

The visitor looked at him again and then reached into the stone's hollow.  Carefully, slowly, he lifted a square book that seemed be made of glass.  The sunlight that filled the sanctuary reflected in it and cast colors across the hall.  Dugilios' skin whitened and he dropped to his knees.  He brought his hands together and began to whisper, "Lords above and around, hear me.  I beg your forgiveness for I did not know of your gift."

With precision, Lucas turned the plastic pages of the first book and then set it back inside the cylinder.  He pointed to it and then the female preist and a few men began carefully removing the texts.  "Priest Dugilios," he took the man by the arm and lifted him up.  "I wish to speak to you further about this."

"I did not know we had a Stone of Kobol here."

"I know.  I saw the truth in your face."  Lucas guided him back to the chair and they sat.  "Leo is important to the future of Virgo and we wish to share in that future with you."

"I see."

"As the priest of a village that contains a Stone of Kobol, I would ask you to join a trinitatis of the other people in your position on Leo."

Dugilios looked at the floor and tried to bend his mind around this.  "I do not understand."

Lucas reached into his blue shirt and removed a thick paper.  He unfolded it and revealed a map.  "Do you know this?"

The priest studied it for a moment and smiled when he recognized it.  "I believe it is Dumno."

"It is."  The Virgan pointed at the leftmost circle.  "At this spot, at the confluence of rivers, we found Brivas and your Stone."  He pointed at the other two circles.  "Do you know these places?"

Dugilios put his finger at the center of the map.  "In the mountains, this is Dunon."  He moved it to the right.  "At the sea, this is Riedon."

"Excellent," Lucas said.  He folded the map and placed it in his shirt again.  "Come with us."

When the visitor stood, the priest just looked at him.  "I am sorry.  I do not understand."

"I want you to come with us so we can create this council."

Dugilios looked down and tried to think.  He did not see the last of the plastic books being placed into a padded chest, which was then closed and carried away. 

"With a trinitatis, Leo can be united.  All of its people.  And then," Lucas smiled and knelt before the older man, "then Virgo can share our knowledge with you.  Farming, construction, metals, medicine.  The secrets of the gods that our people enjoy, you can, too.  All of the villages here will benefit."

Dugilios stared blankly toward a window.  "We should consult the matron."

"I do not care to speak with a political leader."  The priest looked at Lucas and he continued, "You are the one who curries the favor of the gods and seeks their blessings.  You are the important one in Brivas."  Dugilios' chest puffed out a little at that.  "Your decision to join us is all that matters."

After a moment, Dugilios smiled.  "I will join you."

(For those who are curious and can't wait, the "Stone of Kobol" is a leftover from Gemenon and the arrival there of exiles from Kobol.  This is also the origin of significance for triangles and three-person councils.  I won't spoil what that entails, but you'll find out one day.)

Thanks for reading.


  1. Just finished reading the Lords of Kobol series and I must say they are absolutely amazing my friend. I can't wait to read all 16 of these too. Keep up the awesome work!

    1. I thank you very much. Please, rate and review them wherever you got them and spread the news!

  2. I am currently reading the Lords of Kobol and I am entranced! You have done a great job of world building.

    I especially love how you weave the Greek words and use the historical mythology to paint the environment and interactions between the characters.
    Looking forward to your next series!

    1. Thank you very much. I'm glad you're enjoying them. I think you'll like the world building in the new ones, too.