As I promised, at 50 combined Amazon reviews of the Elder Empire books, I would write an original scene set after City of Light.
But it took me a while to decide what scene I wanted to write.
I have a lot of ideas for what happens after CoL, so I had plenty of options, but eventually I decided on something that I thought a number of you wanted: a tie-in to Valin and his founding of Valinhall.
So here's a brief scene--it's still a little rough, as all these blog scenes are, but I think you'll enjoy it.
And thanks for fifty reviews!
(Hit the jump to read the scene)
When Simon opened the graveyard door, the room was dark.
Normally, the ceiling crawled with a canopy of bright green lightning, which shone like flickering emerald sunlight. Today, the room’s man-made sky was quiet. Dim. The top half of the room shrouded in shadows rather than bathed in light.
But, strangely, he could still see.
The graveyard should have been as dark as a cave in the heart of the earth, absolutely black except for the light spilling in from the open door. It wasn’t. He could see the blocky outlines of low gravestones crouching in rows nearby, half-crumbled pillars standing sentry at the room’s borders.
There were other rooms in Valinhall that stayed bright with no apparent source, but this wasn’t one of them. Something was wrong.
What stopped the lightning? he asked his doll.
Caela whispered a response, but he couldn’t make it out. She was too far away, back in his room, sitting on her shelf, instead of tucked under his arm. He’d stopped carrying her around in the House, which now struck him as a mistake. Simon had started to assume that he was safe in this Territory. That he could relax.
Relaxing in Valinhall was a good way to die.
Simon caught the closing door on the palm of his hand, propping it open. Practically every new room in this House contained some lethal surprise, and he wasn’t about to walk into one blind. Especially not this one.
Then he heard a sound. A sharp ring of metal on stone, cutting through the silence in a rhythm, like someone tapping out a heartbeat. Ting…ting…ting.
Simon froze, waiting. He’d come here to talk. Maybe he could still get his wish.
But he wasn’t taking another step into the graveyard.
Seconds later, his eyes adjusted enough that he could make out another silhouette: a man, tall and lanky, sitting on the back of a headstone. He held a sword in his right hand, deliberately twisting it so that the blade caught the light and flashed like a mirror. With a flick of his wrist, he tapped the sword against the neighboring stone, ringing like a steel bell.
“Should I come back later?” Simon asked. He had to accept a certain level of unnerving behavior from the man who had taken a sword through the chest and come back to life in an otherworldly graveyard, but this was strange even for Valin. He was obviously building up to some sort of demonstration.
As a rule, Simon did not enjoy demonstrations.
“Do you know what a Territory is?” Valin asked. Simon couldn’t see his face, but the man’s tone was tight. Controlled.
And he didn’t stop tapping.
“I think I’ll just come back later,” Simon responded. He knew the first line of a prepared speech when he heard one, and as far as he was concerned, Valin could deliver it to an empty room.
“A Territory is the severed limb of a dead world,” Valin went on. Simon debated closing the door. “A healthy world dies, fades, floats away. It dissolves into pieces, most of which also wane away. But some small pieces—a tower, a forest, a house—hold tight. They drift across an infinite void until they tack themselves to a healthy world, a world such as ours, like ticks on the back of a dog.”
“Why is it so dark in here?” Simon asked. He was never comfortable around Valin, but the man was acting even more menacing than normal. Maybe if he’d left a light burning.
Valin tapped his sword against the stone. Ting.
“Territories are discovered when they latch onto our world. Under certain circumstances, a natural Gate opens. Eventually, someone walks through that Gate, binding their Territory to us. Scholars expect that every Territory was founded in such a way.”
The guardian of the graveyard drove his blade into the soil at his feet, leaning forward into the light spilling from the rain garden. The images of dark chains marked his head, his neck, his bare chest.
“Every Territory except one,” Valin said.
With the tapping gone, the silence was resounding.
Simon thought of a few responses: playing along with Valin’s story in the hopes of drawing it along faster, saying something irrelevant to cut the tension, even simply leaving. But he couldn’t decide, so in the end, he said nothing.
Valin clasped his hands together tightly, as though he wished he were gripping a sword. “I found my way through. I floated in the void. I seized pieces of a dying world, stitched them together, and brought them back to the world with nothing more than long years and the sheer force of my will.”
He tilted his head, looking around the room and into the shadows. “Valinhall is more than the source of my power. It’s my home. My safe haven. The raft that saved my life. The one shield that protected me from Damasca.”
A premonition struck Simon, and he took a step back.
“I understand you promised Valinhall to someone.” Valin didn’t meet Simon’s eyes, and his clenched hands trembled. “To use the power of this Territory to protect and serve someone. Who was it, Simon? Who owns my Territory?”
Simon took another step back, until he stood with both feet in the grass of the rain garden, rather than the soil of the graveyard. His heart pounded, ready for action, and he kept his mind prepared to call steel at a second’s notice.
“No one owns it,” Simon said.
Valin smacked a hand into a headstone. “Who was it?” he snarled.
Simon answered only reluctantly. “The Queen of Damasca.”
Valin leaned back, face in shadows again. “If you knew anything about Damasca, anything at all, you’d have cut her throat instead of guarding her. Valinhall’s power comes from its neutrality, you stupid child. Now you’ve given it over to the Queen? To Ragnarus? Just another weapon on the walls of the Crimson Vault?”
“We’re the only ones who can stop the Incarnations,” Simon said. He kept his voice firm. He found it hard to stand up to Valin about anything, but about this one issue, he held no doubts. “We’re protecting innocent people, not one country.”
“Incarnations?” Valin asked, incredulous. “Incarnations are natural disasters. They appear, they run their course, they go away. Selling Valinhall to Damasca just to stop the Incarnations is cutting your head off to avoid a headache. You’re a stupid, ignorant, wailing infant, and I don’t understand why the Eldest lets you breathe.”
That was enough. Valin obviously wasn’t interested in a conversation.
“I came here to ask for your help,” Simon said. “I need to understand how Incarnation works, if I’m going to stop them. And Indirial isn’t…cooperating.” He had only stopped trying to kill Simon when Indirial’s daughter intervened. “If you won’t help me, I’ll go to someone else.”
He started to ease the door shut, but stopped when a thought struck him.
“And I haven’t sold Valinhall. I promised to help Damasca protect people, nothing more. They don’t own us.”
He let the door shut and turned around, back to the rain garden.
Where the light winked out.
Simon ducked instantly, scooping up Mithra by the hilt. He’d kept the blade sitting on the floor next to him because it was too long to carry around, but he needed a weapon handy. You always did, in Valinhall.
As he hefted the sword, he called steel. Cold strength flooded his veins, and the seven-foot steel felt as light as a sheaf of wheat.
He strained his ears, listening for the threat he knew must be coming. For the first few seconds, he heard nothing. Then he caught something far more menacing than the tap of steel on stone: a man’s deep, half-crazed laughter.
From the room next door, Valin was laughing.
Hinges creaked, and something heavy brushed past Simon’s shoulder. He stepped back, bringing his sword up.
The door to the graveyard had swung open.
In the graveyard, green lightning flashed to life on the ceiling, bathing the headstones in emerald. Valin stood an inch from the doorway, outlined in green, looming over Simon.
Fueled by steel, Simon jumped back almost ten feet. When he landed, he leveled Mithra’s tip at Valin’s chest, pressing the razor-edged metal against the man’s skin.
Valin didn’t seem to care. “We still need to talk, Simon. You should understand where I’ve come from. What I’ve done. How I did it. What Damasca has done to me.”
He pushed Mithra aside. “Settle in, son of Kalman. It’s time for a story.”
2/7/2015 01:13:44 pm
No! It can't end THERE! I need MORE!
2/7/2015 01:41:26 pm
LOL, ending a story with the line "It's time for a story."? Priceless!
2/11/2015 01:26:20 am
I treasure the little joys in life.
2/23/2015 05:42:13 am
I know right that was perfect xD
2/7/2015 03:27:25 pm
Will, you definitely are a master storyteller. This fragment makes me want to know the rest of the story.
2/7/2015 03:46:36 pm
I want to know valin's story and what will happen to simon and leah and what about the elder......@#@$@$#% im so hooked! btw why do i feel like valin is more evil in this scene, more like incarnation. cuz I remember in CoL he jokes around a lots and never call simon stupid or anything.
2/11/2015 01:29:36 am
You know, Jim, one of the hard parts about writing Valin is transitioning between the different aspects of his personality. He's an educated Damascan, so sometimes he talks like he is, but he's also spent most of his time around less-educated soldiers, so he talks like that. He's naturally kind of relaxed and humorous, so he'll make jokes and screw around, but then the Incarnation part of him highlights his vengefulness and his lack of joy.
2/19/2015 05:27:28 pm
Thanks for the in-depth explanation about the character, will! also quick question, if you do write more traveler's gate series, will you explore more on Simon and Leah's relationship, I noticed slightly hints throughout the books and short stories. I appreciate there were no romantic cliches in the originals trilogy, but like what Helene said, Leah can cure Simon of his loneliness!
2/7/2015 04:04:35 pm
OH MY GOODNESS!!! That was awesome! As much as I like the new series, I absolutely love this one! You needs to write bunches more of the travelers series. Pure genius I say! I hardly ever give much praise more than "It's good." But there is something about your writing and this series in particular that just blows my mind. Great job! And please keep it up ;D
2/11/2015 01:29:57 am
2/7/2015 10:38:33 pm
I knew territories were bits of dead worlds!
2/11/2015 01:31:03 am
You're right, I did. And someday, more details!
2/8/2015 05:30:31 am
Um, if Valinhall is supposed to be "neutral" then why does Valin incarnation hate Damasca? If Valinhall was so neutral, why when Valin was the incarnation did he still hate Damasca? Is it because his will is Valnhall's will he gets to bend the rules or something?
2/9/2015 02:21:41 am
Oh, Valin's not neutral. He was never neutral. He thinks of himself as an impartial arbitrator of justice, because otherwise it would just be revenge.
2/15/2015 01:21:04 am
Traveler's acting against the stated nature of their territory while espousing their values is a running theme in this series. Grandmaster Naraka was far from just. The Elysian carnation is only occasionally virtuous and Simon doesn't always solve problems with the tip of a sword.
2/8/2015 06:53:49 am
It can't end there!! Nooooo I need to know more!! Why are you so cruel???
2/11/2015 01:31:32 am
Yeeessss, feed me your tears!
2/8/2015 09:00:53 pm
Yet again...we see the banquet and smell the food, but are denied the eating. You got your hooks in us sir! What a wonderful craving to have!
2/9/2015 05:16:29 am
Hey Will. This was a great short.It hints about events both past and future. I want Simon to have this conversation with Valin. Because other than the brie Glimpse of the deep rooms of the house we saw through the eyes of Kai, much of the house remains to be explored and conquered by Simon. And this short and the story of the houses creation, felt like it would lead to him doing so more seriously.
2/11/2015 01:32:26 am
Hey, I'm glad you enjoyed it! And I too look forward to Simon gaining a greater understanding of the House. Because he needs it.
2/10/2015 10:16:45 am
Please write more to the Travelers Gate series. If you don't, your Gnomish subjects will rebel and destroy you and consume your immortal soul.....
2/10/2015 11:17:43 pm
Haha, personally I think consuming his soul would be a waste of his creativity.
2/11/2015 01:27:25 am
You should probably scrape that fungus off pretty soon, before it begins dissolving and replacing your skin.
2/11/2015 09:21:09 am
After more consideration, I find myself agreeing with Mr. Harlequin's statement about Mr. Wight's creativity. I also like the Elders Empire series, which is a close second to the Traveler's Gate series
3/31/2015 12:10:24 am
I strive to put a gnome in every story I write.
3/30/2015 03:36:07 pm
Oh god. The screaming pickaxe gnome flying through the window in CoL had me laughing so hard. Pickaxe gnomes Will, hordes of screaming pickaxe gnomes will come for you if their story is not told.
2/11/2015 09:26:05 am
Yikes... this is too good to just be a teaser... Were you considering extending the trilogy with more novels or more short story vignettes?
2/23/2015 11:52:40 pm
More novels! I love short stories, but they don't sell very well, and they take a lot of time. It's more efficient to use that time toward another novel.
6/6/2015 04:53:07 pm
To comment on a long dead thread... Speaking for only myself, I didn't buy the short stories not because I'm not interested, but because I always seem to get ripped off by short stories. Novels are a few days worth of reading for a couple bucks. Novellas wind up being a few hours for a similar price point.
6/7/2015 07:36:32 am
2/11/2015 10:37:48 am
Is Leah going to join Valinhall? I can't imagine how awesome that first scene of her visiting the graveyard would be... To badly misquote Terrell Owens... I'll bring popcorn...
2/12/2015 12:33:16 pm
What do we get when there are 100 reviews WW? Your fans are the worst, we always want more!
2/14/2015 05:39:30 am
I hate you and love you Will Wight haha. Masterful work.
2/23/2015 11:53:07 pm
It's a stormy relationship we have, Kevin.
2/21/2015 12:45:56 pm
just when i start to forget the painful yearnings for more travelers series you tease me with this will! Awesome sneak peak! waiting praying you release book before relaspe kicks in! This series seriously too good!
2/23/2015 11:51:10 pm
It's all about messing with you, David.
2/23/2015 05:48:16 am
Interesting Im beginning to have the suspicion that Travelers gates and the Elders are in the same universe/multiverse.
2/23/2015 11:05:12 am
I think that was very heavily suggested in Shadow, Chapter 26. Combine that with the information gleaned from this very story, and I could pretty much consider it official.
2/23/2015 11:50:41 pm
You and your crazy speculation! CRAZY!
2/24/2015 03:10:57 am
Oh yea that Unknown Wander person... sounds familiar doesn't it ?
3/25/2015 11:36:21 am
Please, please, please more House of Blades. The world you built there and the characters are second to none. Plus there are so many unanswered questions... I need to know more. Pleeaaaase!
3/31/2015 12:09:48 am
4/7/2015 05:07:19 am
Don't second guess yourself Will. You have great ideas. From my perspective there are so many plots still open that you could expand on them easily. Like the Old Man from Ragnarus and the Nye (what are their plans?) The geography in the first trilogy is limited to only Damasca and Enosh is there anything else? Also the characters can develop a whole lot more. Will Simon mature and find a purpose other than be tossed around by people in power? What about Leah, what's her ambition? And the many other characters: we finished with Lycus hating Simon but somewhat respecting him, Erastes doesn't like Simon either and Andra seems to have a small crush on him. Simon has to get Kathrin to take an active part on the House of give up her blades. Alin's sisters are now in Elysia but we know nothing about them. And as you just finished now will Valin persuade Simon to side against Damasca? You can even add a bit of Romance for Simon there too. And lastly please make him grow in height a bit ;)
4/8/2015 12:08:29 pm
Don't second guess yourself Will, you have great imagination. And I think you still have open plots to use on a second trilogy. For instance what's the intention of the Old Man from Ragnarus? Why did he give power to the first Queen? How about the Nye? Or even other territories how do they expand or get more power? Plus there is also a whole lot to do in terms of character development. Will Simon ever mature and stop being led by others? You gave him a start in the last book but he so far has only chose to fight. What about Leah? What does she want for Damasca? And the internal conflicts in the house, Lycus seemed to hate and respect Simon, Erastes has made it clear that he doesn't like him. Will they oppose Simon if he fights Damasca? What about Kathrin and the last request from the Nye? There is the geography point too. You only talked about Damasca and Enosh and that seemed somewhat limited. Do other cities, countries have access to the same territories. Can those territories reach farther? Is the world bigger? What's going to be the role of Alin's sisters? Anyway the point being that the main characters, Leah and Simon, still have a lot of room for development and there are many other influential characters that you have only scratched the surface with. Can't you have Valin seed doubt in Simon's mind and have him go astray a bit? It could be dark... And please have Simon grow a couple of inches he's starting to get Napoleon's complex
4/14/2015 07:08:41 am
It's not second-guessing myself, it's like laying train tracks. After the tracks are down, the train is only going one direction.
7/13/2016 08:46:36 am
Hi. Immensely late to the party.
Wow, I completely forgot about this thread. Good thing for automated email alerts, or I would never have seen your comment!
6/25/2017 10:51:49 pm
I just finished the Traveller's Gate Trilogy. Bought the books on Thursday, finished them Sunday. I loved them. They were everything i ever wanted from a fantasy book, and i was sad they ended. Then i find out, hey, he will do more.... eventually. And THEN, then i have to read this fragment that you put up that just makes me yearn for more. I can't wait till you release more Traveller books
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Hey, what about those short stories you claim to have already written?
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