The Strange World

The orange and green sphere gradually enlarged before the woman’s cockpit.  She pulled down on the throttle, and the whine of the engines subsided to a barely audible din. “There it is, finally,” she breathed, shifting in her seat. “Hopefully the air is breathable, I need to stretch my legs.”  The triangular wing of her craft reflected the nearby star’s light, into her face.  The woman raised her hand to shield her eyes while she arced her vehicle so the light wasn’t as much of a problem.

“That has to be a body of water,” she changed the direction the craft was heading again toward a blue-green stain on the sphere.  The star ship’s pointed nose arced down through the atmosphere, flames licked the black shiny hull of the vehicle, the woman eyed the orange and red tongues, but her face remained unchanged.  “Just a little further,” she whispered as the ship started to rattle violently, fire now filled the view port’s exterior.  The woman pressed a series of small buttons on the left control panel before her and a blue mist sprayed the exterior of the view port and the flames died down enough for her to loose a short sigh.

The pilot set the ship down at the edge of the lake.  Its green liquid sloshed against dark gray, nearly black sand. She unbuckled the seat harness and depressed a glowing button five feet down from the cockpit, placing a breath mask over her face.  The woman pulled out a white, thin, square, device with a five-inch glass screen.  She pressed a button on the side and the device lit up.  “At least the air isn’t toxic, but it’s barely thick enough to breath,” she said, removing the mask. “But the water isn’t really water, great.”  The woman then pulled out some thick gloves from her pocket and put them on.

Even being on the day side of the planet, three moons were still clearly seen in the sky, one of which was a deep, rust red, giving an eerie glow in the already yellow-tinted atmosphere.  She walked to the edge of the liquid body, holding her instrument in front of her. “Water, methane, and an unknown substance,” she read off the readings that showed up on her device. “That isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, oh well, I guess it’s time to leave.”

There was a ripple in the water, the woman stared, watching, waiting, then as she was about to turn there was another, this time larger than the last. “I’m not sticking around to find out what caused that,” she uttered, running back to the ship.  Before she could arrive at the vessel, a loud growling, howl echoed.  The astronaut spun around, and saw it.  A black mass, with four clawed legs, propelled it out of the water.  The alien creature’s body reminded the astronaut of a slug or worm, it was long and segmented, yet looked like it had armored plates haphazardly stitched to its sides, reminding her of a patchwork amateurish art.  The alien’s face was a canine-like snout with rows of square teeth that looked like hatchets protruding from its gums.  Seven spines awkwardly poked up from its spine and the tips bent slightly before ending in a blunt end.  She withdrew a small laser pistol, knowing the weapon was unlikely to do much to defend herself.  The astronaut fired her weapon, and the bolt struck the creature in the side, it howled in pain, and charged at her.

Realizing shooting the alien beast wasn’t a wise idea, she dove to the side, just before the creature was about to trample over her.  The alien now stood between her and the ship. “Don’t’ step backward and damage my hull, I don’t want to be stranded here,” the woman shouted as if the beast could understand her.

She fired off a few more shots, and the creature lumbered toward her, swiping at a tree-like plant that reminded her a little of celery. The plant crashed down, causing a crevice in the soft ground, but fortunately it missed the astronaut and her craft.  The woman pulled the trigger three more times, aiming for the alien’s head, two missed and the last one hit it in the snout.  The beast stared her down then leapt up and its hook claws tore through her suit, blood dribbled down her arm.  She pulled the trigger on her weapon again, but nothing happened, a soft beep sounded from her weapon noting the charge was low.  She holstered the pistol, eyes darting around, looking for a suitable weapon of some kind.  There was nothing, save for a few rocks which would hardly work to defend herself.  She gritted her teeth together, grabbed the heaviest rock she could find and hurled it at the alien.  The rock thudded into the ground, completely missing the target.  Unsurprised, but grateful the distraction the rock provides, she bolted for the ship, opened the door and quickly sealed herself inside before the thing outside knew what happened.  It screamed and hollered in anger, madly searching for her, but its cries were answered by the roar of the ship’s engines.

She pressed a series of buttons and grabbed the craft’s yolk, blasting off to the safety of space leaving the creature behind confused and upset.

Unknown World

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The orange and green sphere gradually enlarged before the woman’s cockpit.  She pulled down on the throttle, and the whine of the engines subsided to a barely audible din. “There it is, finally,” she breathed, shifting in her seat. “Hopefully the air is breathable, I need to stretch my legs.”  The triangular wing of her craft reflected the nearby star’s light, into her face.  The woman raised her hand to shield her eyes while she arced her vehicle so the light wasn’t as much of a problem.

“That has to be a body of water,” she changed the direction the craft was heading again toward a blue-green stain on the sphere.  The star ship’s pointed nose arced down through the atmosphere, flames licked the black shiny hull of the vehicle, the woman eyed the orange and red tongues, but her face remained unchanged.  “Just a little further,” she whispered as the ship started to rattle violently, fire now filled the view port’s exterior.  The woman pressed a series of small buttons on the left control panel before her and a blue mist sprayed the exterior of the viewport and the flames died down enough for her to loose a short sigh.

The pilot set the ship down at the edge of the lake.  Its green liquid sloshed against dark gray, nearly black sand. She unbuckled the seat harness and depressed a glowing button five feet down from the cockpit, placing a breath mask over her face.  The woman unclipped a white, thin, square, device with a five-inch glass screen.  She pressed a button on the side and the device lit up.  “At least the air isn’t toxic, but it’s barely thick enough to breath,” she said, removing the mask. “But the water isn’t really water, great.”  The woman then pulled out some thick gloves from her pocket and put them on.

Even being on the day side of the planet, three moons were still clearly seen in the sky, one of which was a deep, rust red, giving an eerie glow in the already yellow-tinted atmosphere.  She walked to the edge of the liquid body, holding her instrument in front of her. “Water, methane, and an unknown substance,” she read off the readings that showed up on her device. “That isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, oh well, I guess it’s time to leave.”

There was a ripple in the water, the woman stared, watching, waiting, then as she was about to turn there was another, this time larger than the last. “I’m not sticking around to find out what caused that,” she uttered, running back to the ship.  Before she could arrive at the vessel, a loud growling, howl echoed.  The astronaut spun around, and saw it.  A black mass, with four clawed legs, propelled it out of the water.  The alien creature’s body reminded the astronaut of a slug or worm, it was long and segmented, yet looked like it had armored plates haphazardly stitched to its sides, reminding her of a patchwork amateurish art.  The alien’s face was a canine-like snout with rows of square teeth that looked like hatchets protruding from its gums.  Seven spines awkwardly poked up from its spine and the tips bent slightly before ending in a blunt end.  She withdrew a small laser pistol, knowing the weapon was unlikely to do much to defend herself.  The astronaut fired her weapon, and the bolt struck the creature in the side, it howled in pain, and charged at her.

Realizing shooting the alien beast wasn’t a wise idea, she dove to the side, just before the creature was about to trample over her.  The alien now stood between her and the ship. “Don’t’ step backward and damage my hull, I don’t want to be stranded here,” the woman shouted as if the beast could understand her.

She fired off a few more shots, and the creature lumbered toward her, swiping at a tree-like plant that reminded her a little of celery. The plant crashed down, causing a crevice in the soft ground, but fortunately it missed the astronaut and her craft.  The woman pulled the trigger three more times, aiming for the alien’s head, two missed and the last one hit it in the snout.  The beast stared her down then leapt up and its hook claws tore through her suit, blood dribbled down her arm.  She pulled the trigger on her weapon again, but nothing happened, a soft beep sounded from her weapon noting the charge was low.  She holstered the pistol, eyes darting around, looking for a suitable weapon of some kind.  There was nothing, save for a few rocks which would hardly work to defend herself.  She gritted her teeth together, grabbed the heaviest rock she could find and hurled it at the alien.  The rock thudded into the ground, completely missing the target.  Unsurprised, but grateful the distraction the rock provides, she bolted for the ship, opened the door and quickly sealed herself inside before the thing outside knew what happened.  It screamed and hollered in anger, madly searching for her, but its cries were answered by the roar of the ship’s engines.

She pressed a series of buttons and grabbed the craft’s yolk, blasting off to the safety of space leaving the creature behind confused and upset.

Shadows and Fire


They say a lot of things about this place. Things only the irrational and superstitious would believe. It is a forest, and forests often conjure fear in the uneducated, or so I thought. It is easy to dismiss other people’s experiences with the unknown when you haven’t seen what they have. Until now, I never believed in anything I couldn’t see or touch. I thought everything that exists would one day become knowable, that it was only a matter of time. I used to not believe in true good or evil. They were mere constructs of human cultures, and ultimately the human mind. There is an evil here. The first thing I saw, as many others have reported, was a dark shadowy mass.
Knowing the brain is very capable of conjuring phantoms that aren’t real, I ignored it and continued along the hiking trail. Tall spruce and white pines grew beside me, and the nearly-full moon shone, adding to the eerie, Halloween-like atmosphere. Yet, it was Spring and All Hallows Eve wasn’t even close. Since things were feeling spooky, when I saw the shadow-mass run across the trail, I told myself it wasn’t real. The mood of the evening was playing tricks on my mind, tapping into the primal fear that still remains in all of us.

I decided it was late and probably time to make a fire for warmth, and I hoped to eventually fall asleep next to it. The forest grew colder by the minute, and goosebumps ran down my body. I grabbed some tinder and kindling, along with a few small logs, and piled them up to make a fire. Once the fire was lit, I held my hands over the flames. I felt as if thousands of unfriendly eyes were watching me, but there was nothing there. Again, I told myself I was being paranoid and silly as I stirred the fire some more. The flames started dying down more than I liked, so I got up to gather some more wood. Armed with a hatchet, I set out. My heart raced as I hastily searched the nearby woods for something dry and large enough to keep the hungry flames fed for a while. There were a few big branches on the ground that looked like they would suffice, and after several hits, the wood was in short enough chunks for my fire.

Beside me there was a rush and leaves crushing beneath something. Thinking it was probably a deer or something, I paid it no mind, but then whatever it was let out a terrible gurgling growl. I tripped over my feet, gazing into the wilderness. I didn’t see anything, so I gathered my wood and ran back to my fire. The flames came to life upon receiving the parched logs. I threw in a handful of leaves for fun, but as the fire grew, more shadows began to dash back and forth overhead, no longer bothering to conceal themselves. Terrible screeching and hissing echoed around me. I felt surrounded and unsure of myself. Should I run? Should I stay by the fire? Either decision was really no decision at all, so I stayed and waited, hoping the shadows of fear would pass. Instead they multiplied, blacking out the stars and moon in the sky. Hideous low-pitched laughter came from some, while others vocalized animalistic sounds. It was strange and terrifying at the same time, mostly because I didn’t know what these shadows were or what they wanted.

I kept my head angled upward, huddled as close to the fire as I safely could, watching those things. Then, I saw an army of them amassing before me, taking vague shapes of people while still retaining their black, non-corporeal appearance. I knew that was time to leave. Not bothering to douse the fire, I grabbed my hatchet and flew through the forest as quickly as I could. To my left there was a loud “snap,” and a tree toppled over. Distant laugher echoed, sending chills down my spine. Indescribable sounds were everywhere. I kept running, not even sure where, because I had already lost my way, but that didn’t matter in the moment. Getting away from those things that haunted the woods was the only thing I cared about. It was around the time that I realized I was lost that I also remembered the campfire I made was still burning. I slowed enough to safely check behind me. The faint light in the distance told me the fire was still contained, and for a moment I was torn between putting out the flames and continuing to run. My internal debate didn’t last long. I don’t know how long I ran, but the forest thinned, and I saw a town in the distance: my town. The ghastly beings that tormented me were gone and the forest was still and silent. Then the wind returned, and the soothing chirping of crickets made me wonder if anything I just experienced was real, but I know that it was, despite what I wanted to believe.

Goandria: Visions of War is back!

The second edition of Goandria: Visions of War is now released!  It has all new chapters, greater characterization, and now the eBook includes the short story Flight of the Wizard, once exclusive to the paperback.

If you read fantasy, I am looking for reviewers.  My goal is to have three reviews on this book before Halloween.  If you are willing to read it and review it email me at goandria@outlook.com and I will send you a free review copy.

If you want more details on the book you can read the description on the amazon page here.

An Excerpt from Goandria: The Schism

Chapter 1

Gray and black clouds marched across the once-blue sky. The wind stripped many of the trees of their orange and red foliage. Before long, the darkened sky flashed with bolts of lighting, and thunder rolled in the distance like ominous war drums. A sea of hardwood trees swayed as far as the eye could see in every direction, but in the center of a clearing rose two towers.

The towers were tall, and their walls blazed white, even amongst the coming darkness. The polished stone flawlessly highlighted the craftsmanship of their architect. Each tower looked as if it was carved out of a single piece of stone. Compounding this illusion, no windows were set in the stonework, for their inhabitants did not require any such hindrances to the structures’ beauty. They were pyramidal in shape, but elongated so they appeared stretched upward. They were joined by a bridge near the top of the towers which was accented by a series of flying buttresses. Statues of warriors lined the outside of the structures as well as several walkways that merged into a single road that was the only way in or out of the towers.

Along the stone road, a chocolate-brown horse bore its blue-cloaked rider. Two score similarly-clad individuals came out to greet the rider. The horseman threw back his hood revealing a pronounced jaw and brow bone, long, brown hair, and a short beard that covered his face and neck. He stood taller than his peers, a little over six-feet tall, and his entire frame was reinforced by bulging muscles. Beneath his cloak, he wore a steel breastplate with chainmail sleeves, and a bronze-hilted, hand-and-a-half sword hung at his belt.

“Welcome general,” a woman greeted the horseman. “What news do you bring?”

“Come now, haven’t we known each other long enough to drop such formalities, Evera?” the man smirked.

“Well you know,” Evera giggled, “since you have become the leader of the military and all, I don’t know.”

“Oh come now, you have just as important a position documenting battles while sitting at a desk.”

“Same old Kai. Not a humble bone in your body.”

“If you two are done, we have a lot to discuss,” another cut in. Beneath his blue cloak sat a white-bearded, wrinkled face. His eyes were brown and steely as they looked unblinkingly at the general.

“Of course. My apologies Magister.”

“Have you managed to drive the worlox any further north?” asked the Magister.

“Only minimally, and at great cost. We lost hundreds of wizards in the campaign to drive the demons out of Goandria. Their strength seems to be wavering, but it is still impossible to tell just how much strength they have remaining. Their underground dwellings are labyrinthine and go on for miles and miles.”

“Lorkai, I think I have a new assignment for you…”

“I’m listening, but first there is something else that I wanted to bring up to you,” Lorkai interrupted. “Several of our brother and sisters have been captured by the enemy. I was hoping for permission to send a battalion to go rescue them.”

“A whole battalion? That is more than I feel comfortable committing to such a campaign when we may have found a way to return the worlox back to the spiritual realm. But we will need someone with your talents to head northward into the heart of their domain and see if we can open the portal,” the Magister replied.

Lorkai’s face contorted. “I fail to see the problem. Even if only one wizard was captured, it would be worth the effort for a rescue.”

“Yes, but we are at war, and in war, sacrifices must be made. Those men and women knew what they signed up for when they set out for battle.”

“But…”

The Magister raised his hand. “Your concerns will be taken into consideration my friend. For now we must celebrate, for our champion has finally returned home, and we are one step closer to victory.”

Lorkai and Evera followed behind the Magister and their fellow wizards as they were led to the dining hall. “He never changes, does he?” Evera whispered with a smile.

“No, stubborn as a mule that man is. It must be nice to always be right.”

“It’s so nice to see you again. So how are you doing really?”

“I definitely missed my little buddy out on the front lines. There were so many times I wished you were there to help keep me sane.”

“I missed you too. Sometimes I wished I was out there fighting with you. It can get… stuffy… in here after a while,” Evera said, tilting her head towards the Magister.

“At least here you get warm meals and a real bed. Evera, you do not want to see what I see.”

“And at least you get a feast in your honor,” Evera winked.

“I definitely cannot complain about that.”

The general was led into the eastern tower, even though he had travelled the hallways dozens of times before. Along every corridor, wizards and civilians alike lined up to greet Lorkai, shaking his hand as he walked by. Several women embraced him exclaiming, “Praise Voshnore for you and your victories!”

“Looks like I still got it,” he said, nudging Evera.

“Yes, a swollen head…”

After a long white hallway, the Magister swung open two oak doors that were several inches thick, holding his hand out to let Lorkai be the first to pass through. Upon entering the tapestry-laden room, the smell of freshly-roasted meats and simmered vegetables slammed his nostrils. About a hundred wizards were already in the dining hall and offered a standing applause upon seeing their guest of honor.

“Please sit at the head table in the back. We hope that you will find everything to your liking, general,” announced the Magister. This was followed by another round of applause.

Once Lorkai took his place, he raised his hands. Suddenly all were silent, their eyes fixed on him. “Gentlemen, ladies, fellow wizards, it has been our sacred duty to protect Goandria since Voshnore blessed the first of our kind.

“Then generations ago, the worlox came and quickly defeated all who stood in their destructive path. All save the wizards, whose weapons were the only ones who could send those creatures back to the land they came from. We have been fighting so long and so hard, with no real victories to speak of, until these last few years when we have finally been able to push the worlox further northward. My friends, this is just the beginning! I will keep pushing forward, I will not stop, and I will save you all from the worlox demons that infest our lands!”

A series of cheers erupted from the crowd. Some began chanting the general’s name while others simply sat back down to tend to their food. Evera took her place next to her friend, and together they sat down. Beside her was a middle-aged man with graying brown hair who leaned forward and inclined his head slightly. “So general, since you have at last returned, what are your plans now?”

“To sleep in a bed; heck I would even take the floor with a pillow at this point.” Lorkai smirked.

“I can imagine. It has been some time since I fought in the wars myself. Back then we had no sanctuaries such as this; the worlox were everywhere.”

“I will see to it that we never return to such times. We will be free, and I will not let them return to this land.”

“And so far you have kept that promise. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done, Lorkai.”

“It’s a process. Soon I will secure total victory.”

“Speaking of, the Magister mentioned he had a new assignment, that he and the council have found a way to reopen the portal to the spiritual realm and return the demons to their own realm.”

Lorkai leaned forward and glanced around the room for a few seconds. “Yes, he mentioned something about it, but he was quiet about the details. To me, it seems too good to be true. What do you know about this supposed miracle plan, Romma?”

Romma let out a prolonged sigh, “Not much, just that it is being peddled as the means to end the war. I do know the Magister and the council have been working tirelessly behind closed doors. Anything is possible I suppose.”

“That’s what concerns me.”

*You can download Goandria: The Schism here.