When I was a child I had a recurring dream for years. Even today, I can remember it with such vivid clarity that I feel it clotted in my stomach like a rag drenched in old frying oil. I feel it around my neck, squeezing.
The dream was quick. Not one of those all-nighters where you travel from place to place, long into the wee hours of the night. It came like a slap in the face, or like a jump into a cold lake… and yet it seemed so benign.
I dreamed a coil of thread.
It was just a simple spiral of thread, but it filled my entire frame of vision from top to bottom, from left to right, as if I were very very close to it. It was a tattered brown-red coil of frayed fibers, and it was all I could see. At first, it wouldn’t move at all, and I would peer into the center of the coil, the dark abyssal center, my vision panning forward so it seemed to widen and gape.
Then, suddenly, once I couldn’t get any closer, the coil would spin. It spun like madness, so fast I thought if I blinked it might be gone. But the coil never went anywhere, it just spun, the end of its thread being pulled somewhere out of the picture.
Eventually, it would feel as if I were the coil, moving a million miles an hour but going nowhere. Every aspect of my being was rushing, rushing, panicked, rushing. My breaths came quick, rasping, desperate, and I felt like I was falling, falling--falling forever.
It terrified me to be motionless and yet feel like I was racing so fast I would explode in a crescendo. All I could do was fixate on the dark center of the coil as it spun like a vortex, turning faster and faster and faster, while my chest grew tighter and tighter and tighter until I thought I would die or go mad. Then everything would just--
And this is when you would say the nightmare was over; when I would wake up. You would think that. A normal person would think it was all just a strange version of the classic falling dream, where the person wakes up just before they smash against the ground. For years, when I remembered the dream, I would tell myself that was where I woke up. I would tell myself that when the coil stopped spinning, the nightmare ended. Yet as I grew older I realized that was just a lie I told myself, because that’s not really what happened when the coil stopped, when the racing panic stopped.
You see, I was still there when the coil stopped, when the thread disappeared, when all that was left was the black vortex in the center. I was still there. Still trapped. Still dreaming. And the worst part of the nightmare, the part I sometimes repressed in later memory, was the feeling that I was dreaming of death.
I dreamed the panic of knowing an end was coming and then continued to dream that end. I experienced the blackness. I felt it. I breathed in the vacuum of nothing. I existed in that non-space where nothing exists, where the simple idea of nothing is too much of anything.
I remember feeling at that moment that my heart was a shadow, and it would never be more than a shadow again. I remember settling in that dark place. I remember existing there. I remember thinking I was dead inside.
Yet… I was so wrong about that dream.
What I never realized until now, until this very moment, was the power in living through the end. To absorb all the darkness and endure is to show strength indomitable. To be surrounded by such emptiness and still be full is power. To be riddled with fear but continue to find courage is might. To take the abuse of the world and still be left standing means I am made of so much more than can ever be taken from me.
In the darkness, I am light kept alive by a heart of flame.
Thanks for reading and please check out Everflame: Mystic Wild for kindle!
– Dylan Lee Peters
All of my books take place in the same “universe.” What I mean by that is all of my books take place in and around our earth, but a parallel version. This sounds kind of strange, but it’s a very popular concept used in speculative entertainment (books, TV, and motion picture). The MARVEL cinematic universe is a great example. The adventures of the Avengers take place in and around earth, our earth, albeit a very different version. My books follow this same model, and I’ve provided a visual to help explain that, a sort of timeline.
While the Everflame series, and The Dean Machine have almost nothing to do with each other, elements of those stories come together in a new storyline that is The Hands of Ruin series.
The first and most obvious example of this is the introduction of Echo Valkzdokker in The Hands of Ruin: Book One. Echo was the main heroine of The Dean Machine, and The Hands of Ruin, in part, explains what happens to Echo after her departure from the hive. Her story is intertwined with the main characters of The Hands of Ruin and she has a prominent role in both Book One and Book Two.
The second example is the mythology of the Everflame series living on in the land of Ferren, a place featured prominently in The Hands of Ruin. In fact, the four tribes of Ferren are named for characters that fans of the Everflame series are likely to recognize (Whiteclaw tribe, Zehnder tribe, Andor tribe, and Tiber tribe). Below is an excerpt from The Hands of Ruin: Book One that describes two characters walking into the Temple of Origin, a sacred place in Ferren that celebrates the past history of the Everflame series.
• • •
The men walked into an expansive entrance chamber, with glass windows in the ceiling that bathed an ornately sculpted fountain in sunlight. It looked as if the rays of the sun were sent down from the heavens for no other reason than to shine on the fountain. Endemall was not going to admit it, but Gildwyn had been right. The Temple of Origin was impressive, and he found himself closing his open jaw for fear of looking wonderstruck.
“The fountain is sculpted in white stone and is hundreds of years old,” Gildwyn told Endemall as they walked through the main room. “I assume you recognize the likenesses of the Ancients.”
Endemall nodded, still silent in a reverence he hadn’t anticipated. The great sculpture was beautiful, a statue of three of the four ancient creators of man. Tenturo the griffin and Bahknar the dragon were standing back to back, while the beautiful mermaid Chera sat at their side, delivering water into the fountain from her gracious hands. Endemall knew all these deities from the stories of his youth, but he had never been as mesmerized by them as he was now.
However, the beauty of the fountain was nothing in comparison to the majesty of the gigantic mural painted on the far wall behind it. As the men passed the fountain and the sun’s rays now fell behind them, Endemall sighed audibly at the mural that extended up the entire thirty-foot height of the wall.
“You weren’t kidding, were you, Nye?” Endemall was floored.
“I assume you recognize the scene the mural depicts,” Gildwyn said.
“Of course.” Endemall was like a child at the foot of his heroes. “That’s the moon god, Densa, in his battle against the Great Tyrant, and above them is the sun god, Evercloud. My father used to tell my brother and me that story of old Earth almost every night before we were sent to bed. It’s like that mural was painted right out of my imagination.”
• • •
The final example of how my stories come together in The Hands of Ruin might be the most exciting for fans of the Everflame series. I don’t want to give too much away, but in The Hands of Ruin: Book Two we see the return of a major character from Everflame. It may seem farfetched given the amount of time that has elapsed between Everflame and The Hands of Ruin, but keep in mind that Ferren is a place filled with a mystical substance called zulis that Masters wield in amazing ways. Zulis can be used for good, and it can be used for evil. It can be used to destroy, and it can be used to resurrect.
Please check out The Hands of Ruin, and I hope you enjoy!
The Hands of Ruin: Book One is available for FREE on kindle, nook, iBooks, and kobo
The Hands of Ruin: Book Two is also available from the same retailers.
Amazon Kindle has a neat little function where readers can highlight passages in their favorite books and everyone gets to see what they like. (Don’t I sound like a hundred-year-old man marveling at the magic of the Interweb?) From time to time, I look at these highlights. I find it interesting personally to see what it is I’ve written that others find highlight-worthy, but more importantly, I pay attention to it to help my future writing.
I do want to strike a chord with people when I write. It’s always been my ambition to write something that a person can find some meaning in, whether it prompts a person to think about the world in a different way, or if it simply echoes the way someone already feels about life. So, I thought I would write a blog post that details the things that are striking a chord with readers of the Everflame series. Who knows, maybe your highlight is in here?
Highlights from Everflame:
“You are a mystery my son, like a cloud that continues forever. No one can see through to what lies on the other side.”
“We all have the ability to judge our own hearts, and we should all have the courage to do so.”
“That’s the funny thing about truth. Give it enough time and it’ll see its own way through.”
“Strange are the ways of the mind, and stranger is the fuel of emotion.”
“The Everflame is a symbol, Tomas. It has no power. It’s just a reminder of something we all have, our spirit. And it is to this spirit that we are accountable, not to an all-powerful tyrant, not even to ancient creators, simply to ourselves. By making an oath to the Everflame, I am merely making an oath to all that I am. If I break that oath, it is I who suffer the greatest loss, and nothing can change that. All these men who barter with their Holy for forgiveness should ask themselves, first, for this forgiveness. They would not find it so easy to come by. We all have the ability to judge our own hearts, and we should all have the courage to do so.”
Highlights from Everflame 2: The Burning Man:
“Every day, every hour, every minute. We choose right or we choose wrong. We are not defined by our past and we are not defined by our future. Only our present.”
“No being can be good or evil. It is actions that are good and evil.”
“Everyone has darkness inside of them. Every being on this Earth has the potential for great good and great evil. We all must fight to keep the darkness from consuming us, keep it from burning inside.”
“People are afraid of the unknown. It’s the most powerful fear I’ve ever seen. The sad thing about it is that it prevents most of the world from opening their eyes to the things that are right in front of them.”
“Everyone needs a reason to protect that which is good in the world. Without it, the darkness can convince you that the world isn’t worth your efforts.”
“I want so desperately to know good from evil. What if the difference is only a matter of perspective?”
“A young boy asks his father why all of the other children are afraid of the darkness. The boy’s father replies simply that the other children are afraid because they cannot see in the darkness and there might be dangerous things that they cannot see. The young boy smiles and laughs at his father’s answer. Don’t the children know? Asks the boy. They cannot be seen in the darkness either.”
Charles believes that the purpose of every human being is to find one relationship and devote themselves to it completely and totally. He said that one should treat it like an artist’s masterpiece. Charles said that the masterpiece is called love.
“He is a man who has the knowledge to see the world for what it really is, and the wisdom to let it be.”
“A flame will keep the darkness at bay, but only as long as it burns.”
“Heroes never live to tell their own tales.”
Highlights from Everflame 3: War Cry:
“The best decision is not always a matter of right or wrong, it depends on reason and purpose.”
The world cares not for heroes. It will bend and break their will through the maddening chaos of its existence. It will drag their dreams across its sandy crust, crushing hope beneath the weight of its rocky bones. The world cares not for heroes. It destroys them.
Suicide is the will to change and therefore cannot be an acceptance of defeat.
“There is suffering that comes from hope, but because of hope, suffering can never defeat you.”
A moment often comes to pass that defines the nature of an individual. It is a moment where the world forces you to bend to its will or suffer the consequences, a moment where it becomes painful and clear that there is no victory to be had over the will of the world, but to continue the fight, undaunted, is within itself a prize. To fight for one more minute of life; to fight for one more perfect moment in a world that does not easily afford such things; to fight for those who have given to you their all.
“It is my burden! You wish to see it laid out in front of you?... Fine… you shall have it. You ask me if I love you, no. Love is a word and a definition and a thing that has been given limits. What I feel because of you is all; it is everything. Reason has no place within my heart because my heart is full of you. You are my motivation, my faith, the blood that lives within me. Everything I am is for you and you alone… I know my desire is futile, and I do not care. I will walk this world alone for the whole of time and I will carry this in me forever… and every step taken… will be for you. There is no other way for me.” With tears falling from her eyes, she rushed forward and kissed him as hard as she could. Her arms wrapped tightly around him and as they did, his defenses fell and he returned her kiss. He surrendered to her and for the first time in his life, his heart knew a pain that was joy.
“It was not long ago that I realized that love is not an unknown adventure in a far off land, love is a warm blanket waiting at home.”
I will build myself. I will become. Every waking moment I possess will be a moment I spend working on me.
“There is good in this world. There are things I’ve found in this world that are precious to me, because they bring light into my darkness; they chase away my darkness. I know now that my life is about those things. My purpose is to fight for those things, fight for the things that fill me with light, and fight against the things that threaten them.
Highlights from Everflame 4: As The Darkness Waits:
Among equals, there is no such thing as treason. Treason only exists in the hands of those with power, and they may only use it against those who are without.
But what is the use of wisdom when one has a sword? What use is freedom when one fears treason? And what use is life when one has honor?
We are all following dreams and visions; we who are cursed and graced by this fire called hope. However, I will not be a slave to dreams and visions; I will lead myself. I am strong and I am a singularity. I am a builder of self, in wisdom, body and spirit. I have the faith to believe in and cast judgment upon myself. I will stand the line between the light and the darkness. I will master myself for as long as I am lost in the gray.
They walked onward for escape, not for hope, but escape can never come for those who walk with hell in their heads.
We are not good or evil, we just are, and it is only our actions that can be defined.