The Pantheon of Twilight and the abode of the High Gods

The Pantheon of Twilight and the abode of the High Gods

The Pantheon of Twilight and the abode of the High Gods
When I started building the world of Aria, a pantheon of gods and goddesses were needed. Most of this idea was inspired from past novels I read and my Dungeons & Dragons obsession of the 90’s. Who else to make the lives of mortals even more difficult than omniscient deities who constantly bicker over power and control of a world?


Even though I wanted the overlords of the world to play an active approach in the lives of their followers, I also wanted them to be fickle and aloof at times. Their power base would be more important than those they oversaw. If that makes any sense? I hope so.
I started with two and moved on from there. At the beginning, I created the High Gods; The Keeper and The Taker. The Keeper is a Deity of Pure Goodness, while The Taker is a God of Pure Evil. Both were the main creators of the world of Aria and fought for control over it. Upon seeing their world falling to pieces, they agreed to keep a balance and call upon others to continue the creation and watch the progress of the races. In time, other gods joined the pantheon and made their homes amongst one of the seven moons of Aria.
The Keeper called Sirenia, The Goddess of Love and Compassion. She chose the moon Daga as her home. After Sirenia, came Valorus, the God of Honor and Glorious Battle. The moon Rath became his new home. Another deity answered the call but came with its identical twin. I’ll discuss these two in a bit.
The Taker, still wanting to cause strike, welcomed Orlac the Destroyer, the Lord of Hatred and Despair. He resides on, Calus, the largest of the moons. Nexus, the Goddess of Disgrace and Strife came next and made her home on the moon of Vera.


The twin gods Mana and Asmothe came together, as both were called by The Keeper and The Taker. Mana is the God of Law and Justice with Asmothe being the God of Greed and Pride. Both deities are a mystery to all the gods as they are genderless and androgynous. Being twins, both rarely if ever speak, and when they do, it’s at the same time and only when the situation is desperate or extreme. They live on the binary moons of Cyx and Galifax. One is never seen without the other.

On the moon of Eidon, lives Arcanus, the only god of neutrality. He is also the God of Magic and Knowledge. He was given the duty to keep the balance by the High Gods. Arcanus gave the people of Aria their free will and his tower, there reside a gigantic set of scales that measures the god and evil in the world. Arcanus gave the people of Aria their free will and his tower, there reside a gigantic set of scales that measures the god and evil in the world.
All in all, I think I did a decent bit of work creating deities. The books I have out mention them a little, and some a lot, depending on which ones you read. I hope this gives you some insight into my process and the history of Aria, the world of eternal twilight.
Books written in this world:
:The Heart of the Dragon Series:
Wynter’s Rain: http://a.co/3Cc0tNQ
An Embrace of Magic: http://www.devinedestinies.com/an-embrace-of-magic/
A Question of Honor: http://a.co/epoSQoZ

What got me started with building a fantasy world

What got me started with building a fantasy world

When I start writing fantasy, all my stories were honestly fanfiction. At the time, I was an avid gamer using the 2nd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, crafting epic heroes with long and complicated back stories and personalities that took in consideration; gender, sexuality, profession and alignment. This apparently gave the Dungeon Master a lot of fodder to work with, but I was all right with that. He wanted more than just a regular night of drunken dungeon hack, and so did the rest of the players.

Growing up, movies like Conan, Red Sonja, Willow, and even the low-budget Deathstalker series drew me into their exotic worlds of sword and sorcery. In the 90’s it was Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s (Don’t judge me) and Xena: Warrior Princess (Quit judging me). It was also my first foray into the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal genre (Buffy, Charmed, etc.). Mostly, my love was with dragons, magic, elves, and epic conquests of evil and the few brave heroes that stopped them.

Fast-forward to the present, and I’m now a traditionally published author of the fantasy genre. To get there took a lot of writing and world building. By world-building, I need great land masses, a pantheon of gods and goddesses, a system of magic and priests. I needed the elves and dwarves, I needed ancient crafty ogres (and the dumb brutish ones). Then there are the dragons! Fire-breathing beasts of unimaginable power that seemed to live forever and could wreak havoc on the largest of cities.

Epic monsters needed epic heroes, and the heroes needed love. What use of saving the world from eternal darkness if there was no love. Let’s face it, legendary heroes come from a long line of other legendary heroes. They aren’t just made from dust but are cultivated through long lines of ancestry and prophecy.

When I created the World of Aria, I wanted it to be really different. Being a sci-fi junkie and having a love for science, I gave the world seven moons, because one is boring and three have already been done (Dragonlance -Krynn). With these seven large moons came with a price the world being locked into eternal twilight. Because of the that, I created seven gods who live don these moons. Three for the side of good three for the side of evil, and one charge of keeping the balance. Since the gods need to watch themselves, I created two High Gods, one good, one evil, both intent on keeper Aria in balance.

In future posts, I’ll delve into the world more along with the inspiration behind it all.

If you want, check out my books

Wynter’s Rain: The Heart of the Dragon Book 1: http://a.co/3Cc0tNQ

And

A Question of Honor: http://a.co/epoSQoZ

Though each book is from a different publisher, both take place in the twilight world of Aria.

Feel free to comment below or shoot me a message!

Trimming the fat!

Trimming the fat!

Originally, for my marketing, I figured I’d use every outlet imaginable. While it sounded good at the time, using all of them and keeping up on them is a fucking nightmare. Between social networking, newsletters (which I fail to send on any sort of schedule), blogging (which is more valuable than a few extra twitter posts), conventions, pride events, and whatever else I can find, has left me overwhelmed.

In saying all this, I need to trim the fat.  I need to cut a few from my list and concentrate on content over a few networks over a little bit here and there over all of them. With College still at the forefront of my thoughts and writing deadlines, I need to maximize what I do for networking and make it count.

I keep hearing how less is more, and at this point I will agree.  Scheduling 50+ posts every Sunday for the following week is exhausting and takes up so much time that I could use writing. I need to market, but its time for me to look back and reflect on if what I’m doing is working.  My sales aren’t where they need to be or where I want them.

As much as I love social media, it has proven to be a huge beast to handle. Its easier to get my dog to roll over then it is to manage  all of these.  I need to sit and formulate a plan.  A good old fashioned solid business and marketing plan.

My degree in college is Business Management and I think it about time I make this education work for me and not someone else.  Not that a part-time job in the field of business would be a bad thing (mostly for insurance), but I’d rather be home with my dog writing or playing catch. My dogs love catching a frisbee.  He gets good air.  Like too high at times.

My blogs are kinda lame.  I need to talk about my writing, upcoming releases, sneak peaks, research, shameless selfies, etc.  I’m sure you’d rather read about that than this, but my head space right now is marketing.  I’m sorry, so very sorry (if you get this quote, we can be the bestest of friends).

Keep it freaky

~Matthew

Bad Habits…

Bad Habits…

Bad Habits and the fine art of procrastinating…

We all them whether we choose to admit they are there or not.  Sometimes we aren’t even aware that they are there or bad to begin with. At times, we put things off only to have to rush through them at a future date (my life…will explain later).

One of my bad habits I’m trying (kinda) is chewing on my nails.  I know its bad, and maybe its an anxiety or nervous thing, but it needs to stop.  I don’t bite them anymore, just chew.  Weird, but its what I do. Of course, this could just be an oral fixation and just need something in my mouth (kinky!).

Procrastination is the story of my life.  I’d write a book on it, but maybe later. I have this unique ability to put things off for another time and end up rushing to get it done.  Its practically a superpower and I should be studied on this.

Being distracted doesn’t help with my procrastination. I could have ADD and not even know it.  Either way, I put thing…oooh squirrel!

Another bad habit, is not following through with my marketing plans, or any plans.  Well, not fully true.  I’ve been following my workout plan pretty damn steadily since mid-January.  My blood pressure has dropped but my shirt size has gone up.  Muscle?  I’m dead sexy yeah!

Not meditating on a regular daily basis.  I know it will help immensely in all aspects of my life, but there’s this wondrous thing called Netflix and PornHub (I write romance so this is obviously for “research”). Don’t judge me…hehe.

I’ve been putting off going to the dentist and getting braces to fix my grill.  They are pretty expensive and the DIY businesses out there kinda make me weary.

These are just a few problems of my life I could easily fix but naps ain’t gonna take themselves!!!

Keep it freaky

~Matthew

My Current To-do list

My Current To-do list

My list of things i need to do and finish in a short time is longer than I actually have time for.  As much as I hate to admit it, some of these may have to take the back-burner or at the very least only get worked on a bit at a time.  Either way, they need done.  Some won’t take long and by the time this blog is published, a few may already be done.  Maybe I need an assistant?

  1. Upload “Flashbang” as a free story on Smashwords and Amazon.  Who doesn’t like free? Here’s a cover image!
  2. Finish second draft of my novelette, “Belladonna Smile” Edit, then format for digital and print, plus create bomb ass cover art! Up load after its ready to go. Offer as a freebie?
  3. Order books, bookmarks, and tabletop sign for upcoming comic cons and pride events.
  4. Finish “A Dragon’s Heart” which is book 5 of my “Heart of the Dragon” series for Extasy Books by early April if not sooner.
  5. Start and Finish the final book in the “Heart of the Dragon” series by June. It’s called “Rise of the Dragon”
  6. Work on business and marketing plan for my writing and photography career or get a real job (ewwwww!!!).
  7. Outline book 2 and 3 of my Sci-fi/Romance series “The Naagrus Saga.” Maybe start writing them…finish by mid-summer.
  8. Finish the novelization for “Summer Rage” a low-budget film from Midnight West Productions.
  9. Take some time off to recoup after all this and carrying a part-time job and finishing my damn degree that is taking like forever!!!
  10. Plan Book tour, both physical and online.
  11. Bring sexy back and get off my blood pressure medication.  Hopefully all this healthy shit I’m doing will pay off soon.
  12. Drink.  While I don’t drink much, after all this I may start adding the occasional glass of wine.

This is it and may be modified as I go.  I’ll probably re-prioritize things as I go.

Keep it freaky!

~Matthew

A Question of Honor – Chapter One

A Question of Honor – Chapter One

Ash lay on his back, letting the sun heat his wet, naked
body. The flat boulder he was on supported his muscular
frame perfectly as he stared straight up at the twilight sky
and watched the clouds drift across his vision. The few stars
and many moons decorated the sky like a cosmic tapestry.
He smiled serenely, enjoying the moment. He had few
chances to be alone with his thoughts, and he took
advantage every chance he got.
Being part of the Knighthood at Rosethorne Keep kept
him busy. Between guard duty, scouting, and obeying
orders from higher-ranking knights, he had very little time
for himself, let alone for the half-elf he had come to love.
Sitting up on his elbows, he looked over to see Havyn
swimming slowly in the lake.
The lake was large enough to give them some relative
privacy, but still small enough that they had to be careful.
He frowned at that thought. Being careful was normally
something he was good at, but ever since he had met
Havyn, he had feelings and passions igniting inside him that
he’d never known could exist. His heart raced, and his body
swelled in longing for Havyn.
He hid his feelings of love from his fellow knights. Love
wasn’t something forbidden to a knight, but this type of
love was frowned upon greatly. His superiors had made it
clear that anything remotely involved in breaking the
knightly oath would result in disbandment from the
knighthood. Ash loved the knighthood. Loved it as much as
he loved Havyn. Sighing deeply, he continued to watch
Havyn swim. Ash watched the half-elf’s athletic body cut
through the water with a grace that could only be described
as magical.
Havyn was a mage—a battle mage, to be specific. His
ability to wield magic in battle impressed many of the high
commanders in the knighthood. It was also one of the many
things that turned Ash on. Seeing Havyn in battle was
honestly the sexiest thing he had ever laid eyes on. Ash
shifted as he realized that watching and thinking of Havyn
made him as hard as the hilt on his sword.
Havyn waved and then swam toward him. Blushing, Ash
tried to roll over onto his stomach to hide how turned on
he was, but Havyn saw it and smiled. Havyn saw everything.
Elven sight and hearing were supernatural to say the least.
The only way to sneak up on an elf was if they were dead.

*~*~*

Havyn scratched at his scruffy face and sighed with
delight. He knew he should probably shave, but the facial
hair separated him from other elves and it gave him a small
sense of satisfaction with the difference. He took in Ash’s
face and body slowly, observing every hard muscle and
even the little bit of chest hair he sported. Havyn had none
of his own due to his elven blood, but he was fine with what
was on Ash’s chest. Ash was bigger than him. Havyn might
have been athletic due to training with the squires at the
keep, but his studies at magic kept him from getting as big
as Ash. Ash needed it, though. A knight needed to wield his
sword effectively and with skill. Havyn had his magic, which
relied more on knowledge of Eldritch energies than being
able to arm wrestle a dwarf.

Havyn rested his head against the rock and felt Ash’s
arms encircle him. Ash gently pulled his head back and
leaned down to kiss him. Their lips met softly at first and
then became more passionate. Havyn felt himself grow
hard quickly as Ash’s tongue slipped between his lips to
explore. Magic burned through his veins like it always did
when they were this close. Upon their meeting, he had felt
the magic inside him warm and then burn as fast as his
heart had raced. He’d known then that this man, this
human, was someone different.

While the elves never disapproved of love in any form
within their race, they did disapprove of an elf loving a
human. Elves lived considerably longer than humans. Even
though he was only half-elf, his journey to old age would
last long after Ash’s life was extinguished from the world.
Love between elves and humans ended in heartbreak, but
love between anyone ended in heartbreak. He looked into
Ash’s beautiful human eyes and saw what was in his
thoughts. Even though there was happiness, there was
sadness just behind his eyes.

Humans were notorious for not approving of not just
their interracial love—Havyn as a half-elf was considered
elven—but also the fact that they were both men. In the
elven language, it was called El-Lamurath-Gal-ec, which was
loosely translated in the common tongue as ‘same love’.
Once a year, elves would celebrate such love, but humans
generally ignored it at best or destroyed it at worst. So they
kept their love quiet. It worked for them—at least for now.
Eventually, he knew they would be found out. Havyn didn’t
want that. Ash’s devotion to the knighthood was strong,
and Havyn couldn’t blame him for it. Not every man that
wielded a sword could become a knight. It took a sense of
valor, honor, and discipline few had. Ash had that and more.

Ash slid back into the water and embraced Havyn,
holding him close. Their bodies were tight together as Ash
pulled Havyn into a kiss. The magic within Havyn flared up,
and he pressed his body tighter against Ash’s. Havyn
exhaled slowly as their lips parted, their hardness pressed
against each other—bodies wanting more than a kiss, souls
wanting to become one.

“My magic burns when you are this close, you know
that?” Havyn asked playfully.

“I do. You make my heart race as if we were in battle
when you are this close to me,” he said, running a strong
hand gently across Havyn’s cheek.

*~*~*

Havyn leaned his head against Ash’s chest. Burying his
face in Havyn wet hair, he kissed him gently on the top of
his head and sighed. He wanted more time with Havyn. It
wouldn’t happen soon; the demands of the knighthood
were a heavy burden at times. Many would not agree with
his love. He looked at the twilight sky and sent a silent
prayer of thanks to the heavens.

A star shot across the sky, causing him to inhale sharply.
Had his prayer been answered?

Havyn had pulled away at his startled inhale and looked
at him in confusion.

“I saw a falling star,” he replied to ‘ Ash’s look.

“Perhaps it’s an omen of good things,” he said, staring
into Havyn’s beautiful face. He traced his high cheekbones
with a finger softly, as if more pressure would break him.
Ash leaned down, his forehead resting against Havyn’s,
both their eyes closed, letting their other senses carry
them.

Havyn’s eyes went completely white as he stared at Ash.
It was a call from Havyn’s Master. Even though Havyn was a
well-rounded battle mage, he studied under Master
Falenius. Whenever his master called him, his eyes would
turn white due to the magic transference. Ash watched
Havyn shake his head as if to clear himself of the residual
magic leftover from the summons. Ash watched as Havyn
dropped his arms in defeat. A summons meant one thing:
playtime was over.

“We need to get back,” Havyn said as he walked out of
the lake.

“Will we ever have more than an hour together? It
seems all we get is the occasional meal at the barracks and
when we can sneak out,” Ash said. “Sometimes it doesn’t
seem fair.”

“You chose the duty of a knight, Ash. It is your life. It is
something you always wanted,” Havyn said in a formal
tone, getting dressed quickly.

“I know, but sometimes I do wish our paths were a little
closer together,” he said softly.

Ash walked over to him and pressed his hand over
Havyn’s heart. Looking intently at him, he smiled. “I am
always close in here. I will always be here,” he said, tapping
Haven’s chest. “Now I am going to get dressed and report.
Meet me there.” Ash watched as Havyn rushed off into the
forest that ran along the edge of the keep.

Ash slowly got dressed. He didn’t care if he was late. The
extra hours of patrol he would surely get were worth it. He
buckled his trousers, donned his chainmail over his shirt,
and started walking toward the keep. He sheathed his
sword in the scabbard that rested along his back. Adjusting
the stiffness in his pants and wincing at the slight ache in his
balls, he picked up his speed and ran after his lover. Not to
catch up, but to burn off his sexual tension. He couldn’t
show up for duty that excited.

Find it on Amazon: http://a.co/epoSQoZ

Wynter’s Rain  Chapter One

Wynter’s Rain Chapter One

    I will always be with you. It was the last thing I heard in a dream before I woke up. The dream was dark and confusing. Images of a reptilian creature haunted my sleep. An image of a man in shining armor stood between me and the gloom, pushing the shadow away. Part of me realized who the figure was, but I couldn’t remember the figure’s name. The large-winged creature seemed familiar, like I should have recalled who it was. It stared at me with absolute malice, its hatred driving the stygian toward me, threatening to engulf my soul. The armed figure pushed back the oppressive evil and protected me. I remember calling out, and then it spoke the words that continue to haunt me.

I recognized the voice, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It brought back memories and threatened to drive me into bitterness and anger unless I suppressed them. Memories, like my dreams, were not good. They both stirred up things best left forgotten and lost to the recesses of my mind. Unfortunately, my memories refused to stay buried. For a long time I embraced the melancholy. It wanted to consume my soul, my life force. I let it eat at me, sucking away the goodness that threatened to rise and push away the shadow that followed me around. It was a dismal time for me. The evil I did was unforgivable in my eyes, and it took an elf maiden to crack the ice surrounding my heart.

I rubbed my eyes as I tried to wake up. The wakefulness brought me to a point of grogginess, the voice in my dream already becoming a forgotten memory. For this I was glad.

The voice might have become lost in consciousness, but my vision from yesterday was still fresh in my mind. I needed to know what caused it, but the fear of it happening again kept me from using my magic to find out. It wasn’t like me to be afraid, especially like this, but the paralysis came with the vision, and not having any control was too much for me to handle. I hated having no control. It made me powerless. I was impressed by a level of fear I never thought existed. How was it possible for fear to hold one paralyzed? I still wasn’t able to figure out if it was the vision holding me in its thrall, or the fear from the dragons in the vision.

There were so many dragons counting them was impossible. Their breaths were of fire, their scales of crimson, the color of blood. I had a comprehension of dragons from my studies in magic and from my childhood, but I’d never seen so many at once. Murals in the elven kingdom of Dusk never had so many. Was it possible for so many to exist? One dragon could easily destroy a city, but thousands of them could cause so much destruction on the world.

It wasn’t just their size or their fiery breath. Their scales deflected most weapons, and even the strongest magic stood a chance of failing against a dragon. Dragons were the first creatures born when the gods made the world. They were called the children of the gods, and possessed the gift of magic along with might. Their skills with magic were unmatched due to their direct link to it. They didn’t need incantations or rituals. Dragons only needed to think it into reality.

I had a similar ability. Within me was a direct link also, but I still needed the words and components needed to release a spell. I never needed to study as much as a normal wizard, but it still taxed my body. Magic was a powerful destructive force, and I didn’t have the body of a dragon to withstand unlimited magical power. Being a half-elf had its disadvantages in that aspect. I wondered how much destruction the dragons in my vision could cause if they used magic instead of their might. There were so many, and it seemed my sword was the only thing keeping me alive from the rain of fire coming from the reptiles’ mouth.

I found it odd. Not once in my life did I remember seeing the sword glow like it did in the vision. It responded to the dragons with a life of its own. Not like a kinship, but something else. It was alive in my hands, and I could detect the beating of a heart as I held the sword up high to defy the dragon, though my heart came close to stopping out of fear. It seemed so ominous a vision and so clear. I’d never had a divination with this much clarity. They were always hazy and symbolic and left me with more questions. This vision was clear as day, but still left me with questions, along with a lagging fear deep inside me. Unlike the surrounding sky, the clarity of the vision was the most frightening of all.

I heard thunder crack ominously in the sky. The sky presented itself with storm clouds, promising a dramatic change in weather. Storm clouds rolled across the horizon and got bigger as they headed toward me. Every time the thunder boomed I could sense the ground vibrating, followed quickly by streaks of blinding lightning. They danced through the clouds, lighting up the sky in the distance. I sat up and stared ahead. I rubbed at my temples as the voice I thought forgotten seemed to express itself in a way to let me know it wouldn’t go away easily. It echoed in the back of my mind, reminding me it was still there, giving me a headache and souring my mood. I stared at the sky in quiet contemplation as the lightning dancing in the heavens reflected itself in my eyes.

Sighing deeply, I looked at the beautiful elven woman who lay sleeping next to me. I ran my fingers through her long black hair. It felt like running my hand through silk. She was beautiful. Even though she slept, her almond-shaped blue eyes would look at me soon. I inhaled the honey and jasmine of her scent on my skin. It honestly made my heart race. Was it possible to love someone too much? Sometimes my heart hurt when I thought of her. My Arianna. My beloved. For all the evil I had done in the past, it would seem unlikely the Keeper, the God of Light, would deem me worthy to receive such love or to touch it.

Picking myself up, I walked over to an Aspen tree and leaned groggily against it, not fully awake, it seemed. I didn’t have my tunic on, and the tree’s bark was rough against my bare skin. I reveled in the moment. Neither of us had somewhere to be; we were not on some grand adventure or quest of discovery. We were just being us, discovering each other in ways only our hearts comprehended. Arianna taught me things about love I never thought were possible. Her touch brought erotic pleasure. It was so new. When we kissed, my heart raced with passion, and I found my body responding to hers in a way that would eventually bring us together in ecstasy and fervent lovemaking. My heart had found its equal. It found itself a partner. I had lain holding Arianna in my arms, our hearts beating together as one. Could this be heaven on earth? I didn’t know for sure but it seemed like it.

The wind picked up a little. Like a slight breeze, it wasn’t cold, but it blew through hair. It was gentle, though, like a lover’s touch. My ears picked out the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze. It was a pleasant sound and made me think of home. Looking up, I saw the branches moving in a rhythmic dance. I was captivated by them. They entranced me, moved me in a way that reminded me of Arianna. The way she danced, the measure of her body, even her smile, was the epitome of beauty and grace.

I must be in love, because tree branches wouldn’t normally hold me captive or in awe. The elven part of my half-elven bloodline has weird ways of exerting itself. My bloodline caused much confusion in my life, and now I sensed the two races were constantly at war for my soul, like a constant torment, both sides threatening to tear me apart, neither one giving ground, both claiming my life as their own. It showed in my attitude and appearance. It also showed in how others treated me.

My attitude was typical for a half-elf. I was angry over who I was. Never truly belonging to any race, I was an outcast. There were some who treated me well, but those people realized I was different and not a complete person in their eyes. I partly blame my father for loving an elven woman and can easily laugh at the bitter irony as I look at my present state. Putting blame on my mother for loving a human is almost too much bitterness for me to handle. I wonder if they thought of the consequences, of what the world would be like for their child, for me. I can’t blame them, at least not as much as I want to. Can love ever be evil? I can believe it can be wrong, but never evil.

With a warring of two racial identities inside me, my attitude showed the best and worst of two races in one body. Angst would be an understatement. My kind is not treated well in this world. Both races believe in there being a racial purity—one does not taint the other. I know there are still those who find my kind exotic and acceptable, but finding love is hard. Finding a good friendship is hard. Providing I don’t die in combat somewhere, I will live longer than humans but will die much sooner than elves, one of the many joys of being half-elf.    Appearance is always the first thing others notice. The way I walk is too graceful for a human, and my ears are not pointed enough for the elves. To them, I am too human, not fully a person. My green almond-shaped eyes are very much elven. At least my human side has granted me the ability to grow a beard. Arianna seems to love the stubble, as well as my salt-and-pepper hair. She has been the only person to accept me for who and what I am. When I hate myself, which is a lot, she is always there to show me how much I can be loved.

Appearance is always the first thing others notice. The way I walk is too graceful for a human, and my ears are not pointed enough for the elves. To them, I am too human, not fully a person. My green almond-shaped eyes are very much elven. At least my human side has granted me the ability to grow a beard. Arianna seems to love the stubble, as well as my salt-and-pepper hair. She has been the only person to accept me for who and what I am. When I hate myself, which is a lot, she is always there to show me how much I can be loved.

Arianna was the epitome of a beautiful elf maiden. She grew up in the elven kingdom of Dusk. I met her in a small village outside the elven border where she and a group of priestesses were on a pilgrimage through the land of Tallania. Her beauty mesmerized me right away. The first glance made my heart race and my temperature rise.

When they needed a guard to help them on their pilgrimage, I answered the call. I was good with the sword and skilled in magic, so they hired me. The other elven priestesses were kind in their own cold sort of way. Arianna was quick to befriend me, and we started falling for each other. When it came time to part ways, Arianna left the pilgrimage to come with me. At this point we were in love.

Looking at the sky, I saw the storm concentrated on the horizon. The cloud cover from the storm prevented me from seeing the many moons of my world of Aria. The moons kept the world in perpetual twilight, but the clouds threatened to push back the sky. Lightning flashed there as if the angels in the heavens and the demons of the lower hells were waging a war.

Some wars are fought in the heart and soul. I need only close my eyes to see the war going on inside me, a war seeming to last my whole life. I was making peace between my human and elven sides, but it was difficult. Elves have a strong patience built from centuries of life compared to the short-lived humans, who move too fast in things and are quick to be impatient. The burden of the two was heavy, but my shoulders were strong. I would find peace. Arianna was helping more than she realized. I exhaled. The storm would be here soon.

Elves have a strong patience built from centuries of life compared to the short-lived humans, who move too fast in things and are quick to be impatient. The burden of the two was heavy, but my shoulders were strong. I would find peace. Arianna was helping more than she realized. I exhaled. The storm would be here soon.

A soft kiss on my upper back and a gentle hug from Arianna broke me from my reverie of self-loathing. She has always pulled me from the storm. She leaned into me, her warmth added to mine. I didn’t have a shirt on, so her body pressed against mine increased my desire.
I noticed the swell of her breasts through her thin priestess gown. Exhaling, I tried to restrain the heat rising in my pants as the thought of pressing my lips against her body became stronger. She fueled me with so much passion I wanted to take her in my arms and make love to her, my hands on her body, my lips on her perfect breasts, and sliding inside her as she gasped with pleasure. The sensation was almost too strong to fight.

She sighed and snuggled up against my back. The sigh brought me back to reality because I was still not used to her tender touch.
The hint of jasmine reached my nose. Arianna always smelled of jasmine and reminded me of home as a child. My mother would grow jasmine flowers outside the cottage. She told me it would keep the wild animals away, but I knew she grew them because they reminded her of her home with the elves.

“It seems the heavens will rage today, Wynter, my love. Perhaps we will see the war in heaven here on our plane,” said Arianna.

“Maybe. Does the Keeper tell you nothing, or is he being silent to your prayers?” I asked with bitterness. My thoughts went to my dream. “I’d rather not see any kind of war in our plane.”

What I asked was wrong and bitter, but trying to believe in a deity who allowed such misery was too much for me. The Keeper was real, but I couldn’t believe in him. Arianna tensed at my words. I knew they hurt her; she was after all a priestess of the Keeper. Apologizing was something I didn’t rush to do, and it was something I needed to work on. My words cut like a blade but did more damage. It was a talent I had never been able to repress.

“He answers prayers of everyone who believes. He will answer yours if you believe,” she replied with an unwavering gentleness.

“Your God of Light has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear toward me for too long to consider praying to him. I am filled with too much bitterness and hate,” I replied, condemning myself.

“You are not full of bitterness and hate. Do you hate me, Wynter?” questioned Arianna.

“No, I can never hate you, Arianna. You showed me there is more to life than this loathing,” I replied. “So much more.”

I turned and held her close. Inhaling, I took in her scent. Having her close was enough to calm the storm inside me. She revealed so much more in me than the bitterness I dwelled in. It was hard to break away from the prison I had built over many years. After my mother died from plague and my father died in battle fighting a dragon, it became easy for me as a kid to build the walls of my prison. It was easier to lock my own wrists and legs in shackles of hate and desperation. When Arianna entered my life, walls crumbled away. The shackles grew rusty anthe links in the chains weakened. I was liberated, and I was regaining my freedom, one heartbeat at a time.

I leaned in and kissed her with passion, holding her tight and close as she relaxed in my arms. Her mouth opened, allowing my tongue to meet hers. Her arms reached around the back of my neck and pulled me closer into a deeper kiss and passion. The heat rose again as our bodies became pressed against each other. I could touch the softness of the skin on her back. Our lips parted, and we stood in an embrace, neither one wanting to let go. She rested her head on my chest and I could feel her breathe.

Holding her close, I continued to stare as the lightning streaked across the sky. It flashed, causing me to blink to keep focus on the silhouettes I saw running toward us in the distance. My half-elven eyes are keen, more so with my magic. I concentrated and let my magic enchant my eyes to see farther. I didn’t need words for a spell for this simple trick. My master Ikaris-El-Thar had showed me how to do it early in my tutelage. Arianna tensed as she watched me use my magic.

“What are you doing, Wynter?” asked Arianna as I reached for the magic living deep inside me.

“Hold still,” I said. “I’m casting a clairvoyance spell. I need to see farther just in case they are closer than they look.”

“Wynter, what is it? Who are they?” Arianna asked with the slight sound of fear in her voice.

“I am not sure yet. My spell hasn’t reached its full effect,” I replied. “Something is coming. Some things, to be exact.”

The look she revealed showed how frightened she was. I couldn’t console her because I couldn’t lose focus on my magic. I knew she understood, but that didn’t make it easier. As my eyes focused on the horizon, the silhouettes became bulky lumber-some creatures. The creatures were running toward us with unnatural speed.

Concentrating, I pushed my spell further out and with more focus. Then everything became clear and time seemed to have stopped. Ogres. A small patrol of them were running toward Arianna and me. Their weapons were not yet drawn, but I could see they were large and deadly. An ogre is never without a weapon—or with a bath, either.

“Ogres!” I broke from Arianna’s embraces. “Damn the gods!”

“What? There can’t be. We are too far north for them,” replied Arianna, in shock.

“It seems not.” I donned the chain-mail shirt serving as my only armor and grabbed my sword. “They’re still some distance away from us. We’ve got time. Not much, but some.”

Pulling the sword from the sheath, I could not help but look at its mirrored blade. I could see the lightning reflect in its finish. It was a beautiful blade—forged by dwarves, enchanted by elves, and my inheritance from my dead father. The wind picked up as the ogres got closer. My spell was still in effect. Their bodies were covered in dirt and looked like they were suffering from boils and seemed to be covered in scars. The ogres were the ugliest race on Aria. How a beautiful world like Aria, created by the Keeper, could allow ogres to exist was beyond me. Ogres of legend were beautiful once, but their service to the Taker, the God of Darkness did more than just taint their souls. Their bodies showed the evil of their sins.

Thunder hammered around us with its deafening sound. The dwarves of the mountain kingdom of Karas Tor could probably hear it if they listened. Arianna stood next to me in her robes holding her mace, her face fearful but resolute with the knowledge we both would have to fight. As an elf, Arianna had her own unique racial abilities. I also had the same as a half-elf—being able to see in the dark, heightened senses, and perfect aim with a longbow. Mine was the power of magic; hers was fueled by her deep faith in the gods. I could wreak havoc with my magic, she could heal disease and calm the soul. It was possible by faith alone she could raise the dead. I had read stories of priests with such supreme power but I had never seen it. Arianna had an aura of divine power around her. There was no mistaking her abilities to wield the might of her patron deity. I witnessed her curing a man dying of a wasting disease in an instant with a small prayer and the touch of her hands. A power like hers was beyond my abilities. Magic was strong, but it couldn’t replicate a god’s power.

Lightning flashed again and reflected off my blade into my tortured eyes. I can’t let her fight. As a priestess, she wore no armor. It was forbidden for elven priestesses. They might have been able to wield the power of the gods, but armor was off limits, as it was considered a lack of faith to wear any protection. The gods were fickle. I tried to get her to change her mind, but she still refused. Now she must run. Looking at me, she saw the look on my face.

“No! Must you do this? There are too many,” she pleaded. “Even at this distance I can tell. The silhouettes on the horizon told me.”

“Arianna, you must run. I can fight them off,” I said without hesitation.

Damn those elven eyes. Her sight must be better than I thought, possibly superior to mine. Perhaps the gods heightened her already precise vision. I could fight the ogres off—at the least, give Arianna some time to find safety. Losing her was not a choice. My heart would break.

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36 slang phrases from the 90’s

36 slang phrases from the 90’s

These need to come back!

1. All That And A Bag Of Chips: Used to describe something that is meritorious beyond belief. Like, actually so good.

2. All: Used in place of “like.” You know, “She was all…and he was all…” It really gets the point across.

3. As If: Translation: I don’t think so, buddy! Funny how one movie could bless us with one of the most known 90s slang phrases ever.

4. Bounce: Used to announce an imminent departure. “I gotta bounce.” “Let’s bounce.”

5. Bout It-Bout It: A terminology emanating from hip-hop culture of the 90s, indicating that one is “down for anything.” Translation: Sure, why not?

6. Bugg’n: Used to express concern about someone who is probably freaking out about something that doesn’t need to be freaked out over. “Man, why are you bugg’n?”

7. Clownin: You know how clowns are like kind of scary? Crazy scary? Yeah, this is that. Going crazy; acting crazy. “She was straight clownin’ on her.”

8. Crib: A house, a pad. Someone’s “place.”

9. Crunk: Typically used in reference to the weekend. Things get “crunk” on the weekend, thanks to brown liquor in red cups!

10. Cut. It. Out: You can’t really say this without also doing the hand gestures, too. Also if you could comprehend language in the 90s and you don’t know what this means, I feel sorry for you kind of.

11. Fart-Knocker: A blazing idiot; a “doofus.” Coined by Beavis and Butthead.

12. Fly: Cool, awesome, dope. Jennifer Lopez was a Fly Girl on In Living Color. Every time I hear someone using this word I automatically think about how dated it sounds, which means now is the perfect time to bring it back!13. Going Postal: Going crazy, losing it. Think of how mail goes all over the place. “I told her that I slept with her sister and she went postal.” Yikes.

14. Hella: A lot, very; wow. Before “ginormous” became a thing. “Yo this apartment is hella tight.” Also? Tight, which I guess means that something is fresh, good, “the bomb.”

15. Home Skillett: A close friend. Someone you go to over and over, maybe kind of like you have that one skillet you always use when you cook?

16. I’m Outtie: Gotta go!

17. Mad: Mad not as in angry, mad as in “very” or “a lot.” Contrary to the way it sounds, you can tell something is really good when a description of it is preceded by “mad.”

18. No Duh: Well clearly you are just stating the obvious, you butt munch — another key phrase that ought to be brought back.

19. NOT: Meaning the exact opposite of whatever was said before it. “Of course I don’t think you look ridiculous in that tube dress…NOT!” See also: psyche or sike.

20. Oh Snap!: Used to punctuate a situation that has taken everyone by surprise and which leaves everyone in a state of total disbelief.

21. Open Up A Can of Whoop-Ass: Translation: don’t make me fuck you up because I will not hesitate.

22. Pick Up Your Face: Used to describe an instance of embarrassment that you can’t step down from. Pick up your face is often used when someone proves you wrong.

23. Phat: Something that’s really awesome, cool. Mindbogglingly great at stuff. “That ish is so phat!”

24. Psyche: See also: NOT

25. Salty: Used to describe someone who is angry about something, kind of for no real reason, too. “Why are you being so salty right now?” It’s the perfect expression because when something is too salty, there is definitely a face people make much to that effect.

26. Schwing!: This is a thing white dudes say/I have never said this word in my life. But it’s a thing, kind of like “score” or “haha, awesome!”

27. She Wrong For That!: No translation needed.

28. Step Off: Like, step off my man. Typically used before a fight or some other violent altercation. Consider yourself warned.

29. Take A Chill Pill: Used to calm someone down, to talk them off of a ledge.

30. Talk To The Hand: Today we say “things ain’t nobody got time for,” but back when everybody was all, “Talk to the hand.”

31. That’s My Name, Don’t Wear It Out!: Has no direct translation, really. It’s just a stupid thing people say.

32. Trippin’: Used to call out someone who is acting a fool. “Why are you trippin’ over this?” See also: salty, going postal.

33. What’s The 4-1-1: I’m not even sure what would happen if you dialed 4-1-1 today, but anyway, What’s The 411 is the title of Mary J. Blige’s 1992 debut record, and as such it perfectly reflects its time period. 4-1-1 meaning information, gossip, tea.

34. Wicked: White people’s very own version of “mad.” Black people say something was “mad cool, mad ____.” White people are all, “that was wicked ______.” Possibly originates in Boston?

35. Word: Translation: Worry not — I understand you totally and completely. As in, “You understand what I’m going through?” Your response: “word.”

36. You Go, Girl/Boy!: Translation: Alright, Miss Thing! I see you!

How To Survive Your First Rejection Letter

How To Survive Your First Rejection Letter

You are brave.  Much braver than others.  You submitted your work, your first born child to the publishing gods in hopes they would take your offering.  Then the wait.  The excruciating wait as they read and critique your gift of fealty.  One day, it happens.  The gods reply with their displeasure.  Your offering was rejected and so for the next few days you spend in total darkness drinking wine, eating pizza, watching Netflix, while sobbing pathetically wondering what you did wrong.  Then the depression turns to anger, because who could reject your work of literary wonder.  How dare they!  Maybe not you exactly, more me, okay this was me.

Surviving your first rejection letter can happen.  There is life afterwards.  Sometimes we gotta have a plan along with thick skin.  If one publisher rejects you, don’t take it personally.  Sometimes what you write doesn’t fit their criteria because every pub has one.  Best thing to do is to submit to another.  Create a plan on who you want to submit to.  The first rejection is hard and soul-shattering, but what one pub doesn’t take, another will.  So when you get that dreaded letter, we’ve all got them, don’t take offense.  Resubmit to the next pub on your list.

Everything will be fine.  Take a few days off before submitting to another pub.  Don’t forget to breathe slowly.  Deep breaths.  Everyone on a best-seller list has been rejected before.  Its a rite of passage.  You can do this!

~Matthew

© 2017 Matthew Angelo