To celebrate the fact that we haven't frozen to death yet, let's stay curled up until spring with a good long epic fantasy where you can solve your problems with swords.
Excerpt from Rys Rising: Book I
With polite humility, he asked her only to remove the remainder of his tattoos. He said nothing as Onja worked on his skin. Gendahl paid attention to the sensation of having her magic touch him. She was blocking the pain as she burned the pigments bit by bit from his flesh, and then healed the skin as she went. The stags with their blue antlers gradually disappeared, and Gendahl forced himself to accept the end of his old life. It was the only way he could even attempt to go on. Gendahl could not be forgiven.
A breeze stirred and it was cool against his sweaty skin. He stared at his hands. The absence of his tattoos made him feel different. When his skin was tattooed, he had been only a small boy, and the painful task was one of his earliest memories.
This is my earliest memory of my new life, he thought.
With Onja’s firm slender fingers massaging his hands, Gendahl wondered if it had been the will of Jayshem, the God and creator of Gyhwen, that he experience a life other than being Lord of the Lin Tohs.
“Does it comfort you to think that your God willed your suffering and loss?” she asked.
Taken aback by her knowledge of his thoughts, Gendahl pulled his hands away. “What else can I think?” he asked back.
She lifted her eyebrows thoughtfully. The slight stretching of her eyelids sharpened the beauty of her features. His answer intrigued her greatly.
To change the subject, Gendahl examined his hands and thanked her. “I could not go on with my lord-born markings. I am lord-born no more,” he announced.
“You are still what you were, Gendahl,” Onja contradicted. “Tattoos did not make you a lord.”
“But they showed others what I was. I am something new now, but I know not what,” he said.
“You are Gendahl, my friend,” Onja said, and she smiled.
Her smile seemed to reveal a vulnerability that he would not have expected from her. She was alone as well.
“Your friend,” he said although he had no smile to give. “But call me Gendahl no more. I am Amar.”
“Amar,” she said and liked the name.
“I must go,” he said. He scanned the trees, rocks, waters, and mountains around him. Onja’s presence enchanted the landscape and made it more beautiful. It was a good place to die and to be born. “Back to the world of men,” he added.
Onja nodded with understanding. The time would come when she would go back to her kind as well. “If you want my help before I go back to Jingten, I will be here until the day equals the night,” she said, still hoping that he would make a request of her.
“Thank you, Onja,” he said and stood up.
Onja reached into his pile of gear and pulled forth his weapon. Proffering it, she said, “Your sword, Amar.”
Receiving the weapon from her opened a door in his mind, but he did not yet dare to look inside. He was not ready to receive any knowledge from this awesome being. As he took the sword from Onja and strapped it over his shoulder, he looked into her eyes that sparkled with powers to which no man could aspire. He would miss her.
Amar said, “I start a new life today. It is not a life I want, but perhaps if I keep living, the path to vengeance will present itself.” He decided that he needed this goal to keep going. He would view his smashed domain and take to the bandit life, and he would look for a way someday to hurt the Patharki and Ginjor Rib.
He parted from Onja without any more words. Planning to follow the stream through the hills, Amar walked away along the bank. When he turned back, Onja lifted a hand in farewell and he waved back to her. Onja sensed among his many harsh emotions his sadness at leaving her. It was good to have a friend.
You shall have your vengeance, she thought.