The Conjunction of Colour

This is a really lovely piece of Soar fan fiction by my friend Niya. Enjoy!

A long long time ago, even before the Na’aulele walked about, Hunea was a beautiful land for many Tanau, but, despite how lovely a place it was, there were no colours.

You may ask, how can a place be beautiful if there were no colours, but that is because you live in a Hunea with colours. If there were none, you would not know to miss them.

One day, however, a pair of twin girls were born, Alulalei and A’uwai. And everyone knew right away that there was something different about them. There was a spark in their eye that was just a little bit different, and whoever listened to, and felt, their Song said it sounded a little bit different. Felt a little bit different.

Some of those heard their Song and thought that it was not right. They said, we must teach them to respect the Song. Variation, they said, was important, but this had gone too far.

But even when they tried to sing the Song the way the others tried to teach them, there was still something different. Still something there which they sang that the others did not understand.

The two girls were the closest of friends, but they had very distinctive personalities. Alulalei would dart from moment to moment, flying across the field like the wind and caressing wide swaths of grasses with outstretched limbs.

A’uwai, on the other hand, found the greatest of joy in contemplation. She would sit in the fields and speak with a single tree, or even a blade of grass, for hours.

This went on for years, but then everything changed in a moment.

Alulalei and A’uwai awoke one morning with her hearts so full of the Song that they could no longer contain it.

Alulalei burst forth and flew with a speed that none had ever known, and as she cried out her Song, countless colours spilled over everything.

Everywhere Alulalei flew was becoming coloured, but as she left, the colour vanished as quickly as it came.

A’uwai watched in awe at the sight, and she knew what she wanted, what she must do.

And so A’uwai began to walk throught the world, singing her Song to all she met, and within all things, and all Tanau, the colours found a place to rest.

The sisters were never seen after that day, but the effects of their Song changed the world, and even those who felt that their Song was not right, grew to see the beauty in the world of colours.

They say that, even today, you can hear the echoes of the twins’ melodies in the Song.

A Sky Full of Stars

I have something nice for you all, in the last moments of this year’s Valentine’s Day: a short story about love. And related to this story, I want to say that I may sometimes use the name Anafina. It is song, and it is feathers, and it is an homage to two good friends, one of them lost to me. Also a play on words. 😉

I hope you enjoy!

©2013 Ashlyn Anafina

A lone figure sat on top of a log next to a fire, chewing some trail jerky, and occasionally taking a sip from a canteen. This person, for personhood is typically known by smarts and wit, had a name that couldn’t really even be pronounced in a human tongue, perhaps even fully understood in a human mind. But for the sake of argument, let’s call that person Lee, or maybe Leigh. Or perhaps we can split the difference and go with Li. That syllable might’ve figured in the unspeakable name, anyhow…

Li sat on the log, legs stretched out, legs pulled back, wings spread, wings tucked in. Long flight took a lot out of a body, and Li had flown a long way today. Not merely across cities or countries, but through worlds. And given that travel was not always predictable — even taking the same route may produce very different scenery and a very different schedule — there might be quite a wait.

The fire crackled, and the watcher waited. It wasn’t a bad kind of wait, nor a boring watch. Outside of the little cubbyhole of red rock where the fire and watcher were cradled, a magnificent view spread below. Quite some distance down — enough to rightfully call this space an eyrie — a canyon floor spread out in the distance before being bounded by a far canyon wall. It, too, was made of red rock with patterns of lighter and darker stone running through, but the moonlight painted it a dim blue. A lonely wind pushed through the plants below, briefly creating a sound almost like water. The canyon floor was filled with brush: sage, mesquite, cholla. And the call of a coyote at one end, followed shortly by the howling of a wolf from the other, showed that it was not uninhabited by animals, either.

Li’s ears pricked up in pleasure at a sound that would have hardly been recognisable by even canine ears. Far in the distance, the light rush of wind, and the occasional sound of wing flapping. Another person could be seen in the sky, coming closer and closer.

And then there were two.

“Howdy, Li,” the newcomer might have said.

“Hey, stranger.”

The two quickly closed the gap with smiles on their faces and hugged, their arms wrapping around each other’s torsos, and their wings wrapping around each other, blue and black feathers enclosed by yellow and white.

The newcomer had a name as complex and lyrical as Li, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was Erinn, or Aaran, or perhaps we can split the difference and go with Aerin.

Aerin sat on another log across the fire from Li, and the two spent some time catching up.

“How long has it been?”

“Oh, eons, I’d say.” A smile. Time had less meaning for these two than for most.

“And how goes the Song?”

“You know as well as I” — another smile — “as harmonious as I’ve heard in years.”

“Please tell me you brought your typically stupendous fare for us to dine upon.”

“Yes, of course!”

A parcel was unwrapped, and something that a human would probably see as the most delicious and desirable food imaginable was revealed to sight; the moonlight shone upon it, and as it was wrapped into foil and placed near the base of the fire, a smell that might cause the heavens to weep wafted upon the breeze.

Li inhaled with closed eyes, and then sighed in contentment. Aerin nodded, feeling the same way, as it cooked.

As the two ate and reminisced, laughing, smiling, occasionally looking down in sadness, small shapes began to creep up the slope leading to the back of this cheerful eyrie. Wolves, coyotes, rabbits, deer; all crept up quietly, with heads bowed, in an obvious sign of peace and friendship. Neither wolf nor rabbit expected to fight with each other this night, in this place, and none did.

“Come, little one,” Li called out quietly when the animals were seen. “This is a feast of plenty.”

Each animal that came to the fire as called was given a piece of food. Li and Aerin rubbed their heads and scratched their ears, sometimes tricking the animals with an empty hand, then surprising them with the real thing. Somehow, the food didn’t diminish from this giving, and it seemed to last exactly as long as the animal was hungry. The wolves would curl up by the fire’s warmth briefly, and the deer would lay down, staring at its crackling embers without fear. After a time, one by one, they would nuzzle Li or Aerin, and then walk away quietly.

When the animals who came had had their fill and walked away quietly, and the fire was starting to burn down, Li said, “It feels like you’re so far away, and I’m getting cold without the tall fire.”

Aerin smiled fondly and walked around to sit on the log next to Li. The two embraced, head on shoulder, wings wrapped ‘round like blankets.

Tears ran silently down Li’s face. “Why does it have to be like this? Why does it have to be an occasion?”

Aerin’s voice caught briefly as well. “I don’t know… I don’t know. It doesn’t seem fair.” Aerin’s head shook briefly. They both knew it had to be this way. There would be a time, a glorious time when all things would change, when everything was possible, that the distance would not be there. But it was not now.

Li reached over gently, but not hesitantly, and ran a finger lightly along the top of Aerin’s wing. Aerin shuddered lightly, a shudder of pleasure. The gesture was returned, and then Aerin started kneading the skin and down around Li’s wing shoulders. A kiss was joined hesitantly, then not so hesitantly.

A Song of blinding beauty rang through the valley, bringing rings and waves of colour, and the animals who had paid them kindness earlier howled, hooted, chirped, and sang.

When the two were once again still inside, having shared and loved as only liminal, luminous beings of whimsy, magic, and glory can, when silence fell upon the valley but for the lonely coming and going rush of wind below, Li and Aerin sat upon their log once again.

The fire had long since burnt to embers, and the moon had passed on to another part of the sky, invisible to their sight. They stared up at the sky full of stars, nearly infinite numbers, far away, burning brightly, far away. The two knew that they would have to go on their way soon. They would have to return to their paths, their journeys, looking forward to the next meeting.

But there was still time, yet. They snuggled tightly and warmly. Still time for one more story.

Meta: Soar soon to fly free

When I wrote Soar, it was a journey of exploration and creativity for me. It’s an enjoyable story (IMO :)), but it is also something that I’d hoped would inspire and help, that would be thought-provoking and give an uplift to the oppressed outliers of society who simply want to be themselves, be they bird-people, trans people, or even just people who are afraid to be who they are in a more subtle way. I’ve heard a number of comments from friends and others (and others who became friends through reading Soar!) that it was a profound story for them.

I thought it would be neat if it could be used as a way to let me write instead of code for a living, but nearing the one-year anniversary of its release, I have to admit that this isn’t happening. And my primary purpose in writing and releasing this story is to serve those people, not to make money.

I am working on giving Soar away for free. I still have to work out the logistics, but it should be happening in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Meta: Saul Williams in the Paris Catacombs

The Stone Bench | Saul Williams in Paris Catacombs

Someone sent me this video, and it’s soooo so powerful; and parts of it feel almost like they were written for Soar. Watch and get a taste of Aile’s journey. I hope some day I can see this with my own eyes.

Somewhere beneath bone catacomb teeth
Through underground rivers where diggers dug deep
These underground diggers dug hallways and tombs
They built beneath cities, they carved new rooms
They carved in the rock, they chipped away stone
They carved routes and highways, they built a new home
They forged a safe haven with thoughts to convene
Where life could live freely, where rebels could dream

Meta: Print book completed!

The print book is completed! The finalization is happening on Lulu now, and I will shortly be posting a link where it may be purchased.

My apologies that the ebook will not be simultaneously available; the output from Apple Pages is proving to be less than perfect, and it will need some tweaking. I’m hoping to have that available next week.

For now, here is a fun video for you all. It’s an upcoming flight simulator / game where you actually fly as a bird (shape-shifter) rather than a plane. There’s a full physics model and everything; looks neat! I’m sort of laughing at birds with lasers, though.

Meta: Print formatting nearly complete

As the title says, the print book formatting is nearly complete. I have a sketch to draw for later on in the book, and it will be ready to send off to Lulu! Working up to release, here is a quote from our heroine:

Though I think we’re not the strange ones, honestly. The strange ones are the ones out there who deny that there is any seeking to be done. That all is said and done, in the world. I bet they got a surprise on Aurora Day.”

Meta: Soar editing done! And an excerpt.

Editing is done, huzzah! Paper formatting is nearly complete as well. To celebrate, a short excerpt from Soar. Facebook friends, click the link for the full text.

Somehow, Aile trusts her completely. She reaches up as if to touch the woman, and the woman reaches out to touch Aile as well. Their hands meet in a little electric spark. The woman’s hand is warm, so very warm. And Aile feels her emotions like thoughts.

Come with me, they say.

Become with me.

Become me.

Aile shivers at the enormity of the offer, the promise of rest.

Let go of your pain and join my light.

Aile and the woman start to walk toward each other at the same time…

Meta: Home stretch!

It’s been a long, hard pull (with a few misunderstandings), but I can safely say that the editing on Soar is nearly complete. I’m hoping to have some excerpts up soon. Final formatting for publication will not take very long compared to what’s come before, and then it will be out and ready to go.

Meta: Soar editing still carrying on; short story book

Soar editing is still carrying on, and we’re keeping calm. 🙂 I’ve been surprised at how much blood there is to be squeezed out of that stone. But we all want it to be exactly right on the first try. So the current estimate has been updated to Fall 2011.

On a recent trip, I also worked on some new writing for the short story compilation. My current writing tool of choice, the Lean Mean Writing Machine, or Nadia, is an old 13″ Powerbook. Sadly, she’s mostly good for web browsing and text editing now; but that turns every travel moment into an opportunity to do some writing undistracted by daily worries. One of the new stories is a short but sweet fairy tale of sorts; the other may end up being a Soar pre-history or far-future, though I haven’t really started on it enough to know for sure, yet. These will join a short story and a novella about an alien world where shapeshifters fight for their freedom; a depressed Irishman caught up with the fae; and an online romance that takes a strange turn. These stories were all written over the last ten years or so, but in the end, they’ve all ended up with an alchemy theme. It’s sort of neat how that worked out. So the title and the theme of the book will probably be alchemy-related, as well.

No more spoilers! 🙂 I may try to post some teaser text from Soar soon, though.