There can be no mistaking that 2020 has been a most unusual year.
I believe Robin Lythgoe and I started our Quills posts in 2013. Later, Parker joined us. I do recall times when we’ve not all been able to put a piece together for our joint-post, but I do not recall a month when we did not post at all—until last month, that is. June 2020 came and went too quickly, and too many personal issues held us up. Consequently, we had no post last month. We are pleased, however, to be with you again, and just in time to wish America a very, very, very Happy Birthday, indeed!
The topic we chose this month was to put together a character sketch. I am currently in the process of introducing someone new, Athan Eamon, in Volume 4 of The Oathtaker Series, (for now, entitled, Blue Gloom), so I thought I would use Athan as a subject. I’ve known about Athan for a long time, although I was uncertain as to when he would actually show up. Then, wouldn’t you know it, a door opened and … there he was …
What follows is the beginning of a rough character sketch for Athan, and beyond that, an excerpt from my current work-in-progress. Keep scrolling from there, and you will find what my fellow Quills have for you!
There is still much for me to discover about Athan and so, his sketch is an ongoing endeavor. Even so, some of the key elements are set out above, while others will make their debut in due course. Also, it is still possible that any of the above can change.
Below is a small clip from Blue Gloom, shortly after Athan arrives on the scene, although it too, could change in any number of ways. I hope you enjoy!
Excerpt from Blue Gloom, a Work in Progress
After much contemplation, Lucy finally determined she would allow Athan to accompany her and the twins—but only if he would allow her to retain Ignis until she learned more.
The first opportunity she had to address the flits out of his hearing, she instructed them to stay as close as possible, but to remain hidden from the man’s view at all times. They assured her they could do so.
As darkness fully descended, the foursome finished tying their belongings to their saddles. Then, as quietly as possible, they made their way out of the village, keeping to the main roadway.
Only two moons shone. One, a waning crescent, already neared the western horizon, as a consequence of which, its light would soon be lost. Fortunately, the other, in its third quarter approached the zenith, thereby providing sufficient light for traveling.
So as to keep an eye on Athan, Lucy insisted he lead the way. Then she followed, with one twin to each side of her.
For nearly the distance of a league, they spoke not at all, but finally, Eden turned to Lucy.
“He doesn’t look unhinged to me,” she whispered.
“Nor to me,” Reigna said.
“I am not mad, as thee intimate,” Athan said over his shoulder, clearly having heard them. “I admit that I was, but I am no longer. Thou need not fear me.”
Reigna urged her mount forward.
Fearful for her safety, Lucy quickly followed suit, Eden in her wake. Moments later, the four rode side-by-side. Lucy situated things such that Athan rode to her right, while the twins both rode to her left.
“Convince me,” Lucy said to the man, “that you are who you say you are, and that you are not mad.”
“I know not how.”
She sighed and bit her lip, in thought. Then, recalling how she’d seen Mara operate from time to time over the years, she said, “Why don’t you tell us your story.”
“Oh!” he exclaimed. “It is not possible, as it is an exceedingly long one, indeed.”
“But of course, if thou insist, Madam Lucy,” he said.
“Where shall I begin?”
Again, Lucy thought back to her experiences. Then she repeated what she’d often heard Mara say: “I suggest you start at the beginning.”
Athan sighed and then nodded as he pulled out from his pack, a cloth bag about the size of his palm. He untied its leather string, then reached his fingers inside. A moment later, clearly having removed something from the bag, he drew his fingers to his mouth.
“What is that?” Lucy asked.
Pulling back lightly on his reins, as his mount had been pulling ahead, Athan laughed. “Ahhh, ’tis nothing that need worry thee. ’Tis simply a nugget of hard, dried maple sugar. I did not stop earlier to dine, nor did I imagine traveling through the night, but now I find myself in need of a bit of sustenance, which I know maple sugar shall provide me.”
“Hand the bag to me,” Lucy said, reaching his way.
Athan pulled the tie closed, then dropped the bag in her palm. “Please, help thyself,” he offered.
She opened it, sniffed at its contents, and then, satisfied, returned it to him.
“You should have said you needed to eat,” she scolded. “There was plenty of food back in Snoring. But the only provisions we have with us are packed away—and in truth, I’d as soon not stop to get them out. We need to make up for lost time, accomplish what we set out to do, and return home as quickly as possible.”
“Concern thee not,” Athan said as he dropped the pouch into a pocket of his tunic.
“I won’t. Still, I admit I do not understand your claim as to the power of that sweet to sustain you,” she commented.
“No?” The expression of shock on his face was clearly visible in the moonlight. “Thou ought try it sometime. It has the power to make one feel . . . satiated. If only for a brief period.”
He grinned, then said, “Well now, if I recall, I was about to tell thee my story.”
“Yes, do!” Eden encouraged him.”
“Very well then, my tale begins where I was born, on the outskirts of a little town in the hinterlands.” Delivering each word with a flourish, he sat up straighter, pulled his shoulders back, and then added, his voice soft, rhythmic, and possessing a nearly trance-like quality,
“It was there I learned what the word ‘yonder’ meant.”
“Excuse me?” Lucy interrupted him. “Not that far back! Goodness, if it was possible to recall one’s birth, I fear you’d have started there.”
Once more, Athan laughed. “Ahhh, I had determined that might be a bit too far back—although I would be happy to tell thee of my first glimpse at the attending healer—or even better, of my joy at finding my mother’s breast.”
Eden giggled, following which Reigna joined her.
The full emphasis of Lucy’s glare at them, failed in the semi-dark. Then, “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said to Athan. “You can’t possibly remember that. And if you say you do, you will convince me that you are, indeed, quite demented!”
Athan glanced her way. “Thou would have me lie?”
Once more, Eden giggled.
“No!” Lucy exclaimed in response before addressing Eden. “Stop that,” she scolded her.
“Ahhh, very well then,” Athan said, “I shall begin again—although thou might appreciate knowing the attendant healer at my birth— Well, goodness, but she was a sight! With eyes of two distinctly different colors, wrinkles like craters, lips so thin as to be nearly nonexistent, and—” He waved his hand. “Ahhh, but no mind! Perhaps instead, I ought tell thee of my charge?”
“Oh, yes!” Eden said.
“Ahhh. That is good, then. Now my charge, as thee well know, was a seventh. A seventh seventh, to be precise. Thus, and as thou all canst see, I have not aged for some centuries.”
Lucy glanced his way. “It would be the only explanation for your longevity, yes. Although if you tell truth, then clearly you had some years on you when you took your oath. That is, you were not a young adult at the time.”
“Indeed, ’tis as thou says. I had lived just four decades, was married and had a family. But I lost my beloved wife, infant daughter, and young son in a house fire. I tried to save them, but—” Athan paused to clear his throat, brushed the scar on his face, swallowed hard, and then continued. “’Tis true what they say, that time reduces pain, but never does it remove it entirely . . .
“Anyway, after spending a year or more wishing I had perished with my family, I determined I would not allow myself the luxury of loving another—ever again. I determined that the pain that could come of another such loss, was too great, indeed. Thus, I reasoned it appropriate for me to become an Oathtaker. I knew, you see, that once I took an oath and was sworn to the protection of my charge, I could not commit to another for so long as my charge lived.” With that, Athan went quiet.
Several long seconds later, Lucy glanced his way. “So you trained to be an Oathtaker,” she said. “Then what?”
Athan nodded, “I did, yes.” He took in a deep breath and then started in with his story in such fine detail as to seemingly invite his listeners to experience the events firsthand.
“Taking in the view from the hilltop behind Redgrove,” Athan began, “left one feeling as though Ehyeh had created the grandest canvas, then sat to paint His most glorious landscape, in colors and shades and hues that transformed as day progressed to night, and then circled back round to day once more. Above, the sun shone so brightly on roiling clouds piled high as mountains, that one might experience temporary blindness if he looked skyward for the span of more than a few fleeting heartbeats. Below, the vista encompassed immeasurable distances.
“It was such a view I had been enjoying that day. Half hypnotized with the glory I beheld, I would have missed the events had the panorama before me been a scene of rushing people or things, or had the wind been moving in the grassy meadows or through the treetops. In such event, I could not have discerned what transpired. But instead, the landscape was calm, serene, with a breeze, nonexistent. The birds had quieted for the late afternoon hour, and not even a lone hawk circled above by way of distraction. Thus, the singular place where movement occurred, was the one place across that grand vista, that caught my attention.
“There, in the nearish distance, rode three men. The sun glinted off the weapons they carried, whilst their dress identified them, most assuredly, as cutthroats, all. Soon, they dismounted, then slithered toward a group of travelers—who I guessed to be a peddler and his family, stopped to fix a wheel on their cart.”
Athan paused momentarily, then continued, “I watched transfixed as the criminals took cover in the brush surrounding the travelers. I was too far away to be heard. Nevertheless, I shouted for all I was worth and waved my arms madly, in hopes the travelers might see me. In truth, I could not have reached them in time to render my aid, even had I possessed the speed of a pronghorn.”
Once more, Athan paused. He cleared his throat and then said, his voice low, “And so, I was left to witness the worst. I assume the men used some prearranged signal, perhaps a bird whistle. Then the one who led the pack, with a double-edged sword in one hand and a battle-axe in the other, stepped out. While my heart beat but a handful of times, those men beheaded the peddler, then completed the slaughter of his family.”
Athan, pulling his shoulders back, exhaled audibly. Then, “I looked away,” he said, “but the images pestered me nonetheless, refusing to leave me. When I turned back, I saw yet another traveler, a lone young man, not terribly far from the bloody scene and, unfortunately, headed that way. He appeared about the age of the son I had so recently lost . . . Turning back, I watched as the criminals rifled through the belongings of their most recent victims, searching out anything of value. I knew in that moment that I had to hurry if I hoped to assist that young man.”
“Oh!” Eden exclaimed. “But weren’t you afraid of encountering those murderers?”
“I was not. Indeed, I had made a practice of interfering in such events. Countless times had I narrowly escaped what should have been my certain death. Yet I lived on.”
“But why?” Reigna asked. “Why would you court such danger?”
“See thee not, young one? I had nothing to lose. Nothing and no one to live for. No one to miss me. No one to mourn the loss of me.” Athan drew quiet for a long moment.
Finally, he continued. “But something about that young man drew me, cried out to me, begged me, demanded a response of me . . . Something of his certain predicament pressed me to run to his aid. As I said, I’d frequently sought out dangers, but in that moment— Well, the feeling that came over me could not be compared to any other. I could not then, nor could I today, hundreds of years later, describe it—except to say that it was of Ehyeh.
“And so, keeping my eyes firmly ahead, I ran down the hill and toward danger, hoping I might interrupt the otherwise certain meeting of that young one with the murderous trio whose evil I had just witnessed.”
I hope you enjoyed that!
Now, let's see what P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse, has for us!
I see that Parker has jumped right into the crux of his character description, so here goes. (Be sure to click on the link for more.)
At first blush, you would think the beard is his defining feature. He growls any introduction through a tangle of grizzled brush that looks like it would have taken high marks at a ZZ Top concert. The little bit of skin that can be seen behind his face wig is a cross between bark and old leather. He only introduces himself as "Doc." Combined with the gray streaked through the beard you get the hint that he might have already come home from Vietnam when Pink Floyd formed in 65'. A faded bandana that could have been blue with stars on it at one time holds back a mop of hair. An old hippie. Except then you see a flash in his eyes. Almost black in the shadows, but with an unsettling spark. Cunning. Intelligent. Watchful. This is no peace and love and weed hippie. A live-and-let-live Big Lebowski.
This is a fighter. A hunter.
Robin Lythgoe! Robin! Oh, there you are. Well? What have you for us today? I can't wait!
I see that you, too, jumped right into your character. Thank you!
KipKap… What would you like me to tell you about him? We are friends, I think. Some people find that distinction uncomfortable, for he is also a foreigner to our world. The term “demon” is insulting, for he is no such thing, though that is what he is labeled by most. He possesses a sublime sense of subtle humor, a keen mind, and a remarkable tolerance for idiots. This is, perhaps, what makes us so compatible.
'KipKap’ is not his proper name. When he says it, it’s longer. He makes the K’s more guttural and the P’s more spitty, which I find altogether too messy for my mouth.
“Did you name him?” Tanris asked…