Becoming an Abstractor – Part One

Two years had passed since Timothy Durston graduated as an official Cleric of the Realm. And while most would argue two years working the field was hardly enough experience, family connections and politics saw to his steadfast career advancement. Even if the promotion was premature, true talent and ability left their mark on the young man, so it was with great excitement Durston made his way to the Cleric’s Temple.

In all the realm there was no more fantastically found place as the temple. Along with structures carved with the creamiest marble, empowered by the strongest seals, decorated with the detail of true artistry, and surrounded by spectacular gardens; the Cleric’s Temple collected and housed all of the realm’s magic within its walls. It was here their great nation marked as its center, and in all aspects it truly was; geographically, spiritually, financially, governing, magically, and militarily.

The grounds themselves occupied a hill, lifted above the main city overlooking The Capital. Intricate pathways, mazes, and gardens filled the spaces in-between six buildings circling the central Tower of the Clerics. At its focal point the tower was capable of harnessing the abundant energy within the realm’s borders in extreme emergencies, or draining rituals. Purposely formed as a fair size summoning circle, the Cleric’s Temple set the example of the meticulous layout of every major city within the Circles of the Realm.

Durston kept his eyes leveled as he made his way among the flowerbeds, doing his best not to look the part of an impressed sightseer. Even though he knew his final destination would be connected with the institutional part of the temple, Durston was still forced to inform his superiors of his arrival at one of the sub-buildings that dealt with assignments and housing. There of course was also the Alchemist Lab, Healer’s Ward, Caster’s Keep, Fighter’s Barracks, Tamer’s Kennels and Tower of Clerics; all of which made up the temple.

A smile found its way on the young man’s face, eliciting an aura of charm, as the thrill of finally being back in this domain of comfort settled into reality. Reaching his destination, Durston let himself into the small two-story enclosure. Before him sat a mature woman behind a heavily oiled desk.

“Oh, if it isn’t the notorious Lord Durston’s youngest son. I heard you were making an early return to the Capital.” Standing upon his entrance, the woman bowed in respect.

Giving a light chuckle, Timothy changed his smile to a full face grin. “Aunt Priya, it is good to see you. And how dare you bow as if welcoming a stranger.”

“Yes, well, my nephew may as well be a stranger. Imagine, failing to informing the family of his most recent promotion. Do you realize we had to find out from the temple, and only because they were asking if you were going to stay in the dorms or with the Lord. Honestly, it made planning a party a bit rushed.”

A slow feeling of unease made its way to the creases of Durston’s eyes. “What did my father say about the housing arrangements?”

“Your father was a youth once you know. He instructed the temple that as an independent adult you were in need of privacy as befitting your station.” She placed a motherly hand on his arm. “Your father isn’t a tyrant Timothy.”

True to his aunt’s words and his father’s decision not to further interfere, at least on this matter, Timothy Durston was given a small but single residential room. The Cleric’s themselves didn’t monitor the running of the dorms in which they used to house those stationed within the Capital, instead choosing to contract a third party in the city. By only placing high ranking officials within the temple’s walls, the grounds were kept from the cluttering of additional architecture. Further separation from home and work also added to a more respected and professional atmosphere in the day-to-day running.

A week’s time passed since Durston’s arrival to the Capital, his dorm life shared with the residents of 28 other Clerics. Though being assigned to the temple, Durston was still considered green with a low rank position, hence over an hour of his day was spent traveling between the two. Ambitious faces hidden behind smiles greeted him regularly, consequences of a powerful and respected father. These social ambushes were something Timothy grew up with and trained to tolerate.

Today was no different from the day prior as Durston made his way through the throng of people going about their tasks; his newly appointed mauve vestment giving no standing of awe amongst the locals desensitized to the common occurrence of Clerics amidst them. But once he passed the temple’s gates, leaving the hustle behind, Durston noticed a different and tense atmosphere.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Timothy asked a passing acquaintance.

The man stopped, a bit dazed from Durston suddenly blocking his way. “Not sure myself. It started just after twilight. The High Council is calling an emergency meeting.”

“The High Council? It’s that serious then. Any idea what it could be about. Have we been attacked?”

“From the gossip I hear, we may have been. All Clerics in attendance within the Capital are being summoned. I suggest we head to the tower now.”

The two began making their way towards the gathering crowd, speculating what the cause could be. “I heard Lord Raneer arrived sometime during the night and that he called the meeting. You haven’t heard anything from you father?”

Timothy Durston gave his companion a quick look before facing away. “I’m not staying with my family but in the dorms down in Conyer’s Court.”

Giving a small word of surprise, silence enveloped the pair as they reached their destination. The Tower of Clerics was ardently designed to command admiration from those lucky enough to lay eyes upon it. However, today no one stopped to show their respect or regard for the history and mastery, but instead anxiously made their way inside to the auditorium.

A silent hush fell over the room as a middle-age woman with golden-tresses cascading down her back made way to the center of the group. Pausing long enough for the weight of her gaze to make its way around the room, she addressed her audience.

“Under normal circumstances and formality the majority of you wouldn’t have the honor of being here, or within my presence. But recent events have made us forgo the usual procedures and call upon you today. For those unaware, I am Lady Au’Lira, a Grand Wyvern and currently in charge of this situation.”

Noisy whispers filled the room, friends and comrades turning to one another in excitement and worry. “It has come to our attention from Lord Raneer, an unsanctioned party has risen in the shadows of an outer city, Cyphorica. The patterns of history are not new to me, and so typically this group would go unmentioned to many of you, being dispatched quickly and soon forgotten.

“However, the limited intelligence that has been obtained shows us this beast has teeth, a wide stretch and already trained users in the art of magic.” Gasps rendered Au’Lira momentarily quiet. “Yes. That fear unites us all here now. Further details and announcements will be made through section leaders, but for now I asked you all to attend because I must request your assistance.”

Durston produced an audible gulp as those wyvern eyes landed on him.

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Raksura Series – Fantasy

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I am personally a huge fan of fantasy books that involve characters with the ability to morph; the magic from going normal to special. An example of this can be seen in the fact last week’s review was based on a Manhwa that created magicians with the power to change into their alternate selves. But most stories and authors that use this form of magic usually go from human to an animal based one. This can be seen as transforming usually into Dragons in the majority.

The Raksura series not only focuses on a uniquely designed species strictly the creation of Martha Wells, but also takes place in a very interesting world with a highly different social structure. The main story is based on a young Raksura that was lost and abandon from his kind, not knowing who or what he is, and simply trying to survive. Martha Wells for the most part seems content with her 3 books following Moon, the protagonist, while currently teasing readers with 2 books of short stories still being released.

In the primary 3 books, you discover a vast and very wild world. Hundreds of different species roam this world separated by simple geography, with few being widespread. There are those of every skin color under the sun, as well as those very primitive, and those industrial. The Raksura are a species of “groundlings” that can transform into a lizard creature. Half of the species become stout and hardy, focusing on hunting, gathering, teaching, childcare, art, building, and the basic needs of the colony. The other half of Raskura transform into tall winged creatures that mainly sleep and eat, while concentrating on the defense of their territory.

Queens run these colonies in a very matriarch, bee-hive, sort of way. Fertile males of the species are seen as pampered, protected, innocent, and sheltered sperm donors. It was a bit of a surprise reading a book that changed the stereotypical sex roles. Along with that, Martha Wells also opens up the door to polyamory and bisexual relationships, where there doesn’t seem to be love so much in the story, but a desire of friendship. It just so happens that friendship with Raksura involves the sharing of pleasure. The only acception to these open relationships is the fertile males, “consorts,” who can be with as many partners as they want, but only with one Queen.

The first book follows Moon as he struggles fitting in with other species while hiding his abilities, as they tend to mimic that of another species called Fell, whom are much like the Borg of Star Trek and highly feared. After learning who and what he really is, Moon then is forced to learn the ways of a society and role he never had to experience, and just can’t completely accept. Having been raised alone, for a consort, Moon has become very independent and adventurist; nothing like how he is suppose to behave. However, the small colony he finds himself with learn to embrace his unusual behavior while they strive simply to survive and relocate their home.

All three books of the Raksura series describe a world that reminds me a lot of what is seen in the Avatar movie; huge trees, tribal species, fight or die mentality. It gives off the vibe of a young planet where a dominate race hasn’t been decided upon; where the world is young and still creating small pockets of vastly different life, and anything and everything can kill you. It’s filled with super huge plants, floating islands, ancient magic, rough technology, minimal government and lots of eating. And though I was enthralled with all three of her books, highly anticipating each one, forfeiting sleep to complete them, her Stories of the Raksura leave the series lacking.

Not being much into short stories, I felt a little ripped off since not only is this book significantly thinner than her other work, or even that it was released ten months late, but because 1 of the 3 stories was free to read on her webpage and written several years prior. On top of that, half of the book was a short story about how the colony was started and so lacked any of the characters of the main trilogy. The first short story in this current release was interesting, but didn’t add anything to the actual story of Moon and showed no progress in him adjusting to the colony, or his station. I can only hope her next short story release isn’t as disappointing, as many readers including myself, felt she left the main books hanging and would really like to see Moon finally having the family he had been trying since book 1.

If you find yourself interested in exploring this new world of interesting creatures, Martha Wells has written and posted many short stories based on her series that can perhaps give you a feel of the books themselves. Forest Boy is published in her most recent print release of the Stories of the Raksura, and takes place as a prequel to the series. Adaptation also is before the main books, but may be seen as a spoiler as it is about a secondary character’s problem that plagues the colony from the very beginning and all throughout. Martha Wells has stopped publishing additional shorts on her webpage, which I find disappointing as she did promised more, but I will support her in the hopes someday she will continue them.

Black Haze – Manhwa

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Following a new trend of publishing online, Black Haze is currently being produced weekly and is released every Wednesday. The translation group, B.A.P (not the band), sticks to a strict routine of a 24 hour translation update, which can be viewed on ManagHere.

This is a currently new Manhwa that I recently came across with a highly addictive storyline, assuming you are the type of person that loves the young main character that acts a bit reserved but comical at the same time.

Magicians in this world aren’t like the typical spell casting ones commonly found in fantasy books and movies. They are a special elite class of people gifted with the powers bestowed to them by “god” to fight and destroy demons. These powers are all based on defending and attacking. Nothing will be appearing from anyone’s hat in this Manhwa. Along with the magic being based on combat, the wielders first must call upon their magician’s true name which invokes them to change form and allows them to cast their spells. These magical alterations don’t typically look much different from the character’s normal form, except for obviously the magician this story follows.

Rood is the main character who is roughly the age of 14 and possesses extraordinary magical powers and talent. Thus far in the store (Chapter 74) how he has obtained those powers has only been hinted at and nothing specific has been mentioned. You do have the sneaking suspicion that they aren’t exactly ordinary, and possibly even were obtained through some dark methods. The prologue chapter hints that Rood himself doesn’t remember anything before waking up from this possible dark ritual. After reading to Chapter 55 or so, it may be good to revisit the prologue so that the hints and teasers about his powers come into light.

For the first ten or so chapters the story moves a bit slow, taking you through the introduction of the value of Rood and his Magician abilities, while at the same time showing you how the organization he works for is trying to keep him out of trouble and away from the spotlight. While these attempts obviously fail, the manhwa introduces it’s light humor consistently throughout the slow moving chapters that help build Rood’s personality. After the 1st full mission is completed, the storyline then proceeds to build momentum as it takes you to it’s main location of the Magician’s School Helios. Here Rood is to learn how to socialize with kids his own age for once, and hopefully make a few friends.

The school life shows how overly distant Rood’s life has been from people outside of his organization, Opion. As Rood navigates the school and tries to fulfill his mission, the story begins to build it’s true intentions of the magician’s training. Demons. From roughly Chapter 35 on, more combat is seen and the plot begins to thicken as multiple Magician Organizations are revealed and who is on who’s side is established.

If you can get past the poor art style of the first chapters and the slow beginning as the author sets the scene for Rood to enter the Magician’s School, the story will captivate you. Black Haze’s author makes every chapter a cliffhanger, which can be irritating but has you constantly looking forward to the next release. They do a fantastic job of giving just enough to excite you, and pull back before giving away too much. I only wish that this online manhwa had the author’s name available, because all you’ll find is that it was created by someone named “Dydyddl7” Yong Yong.