Saturday, March 30, 2013

Character: Arjuna

Arjuna was once a slave, in fact he was bought by the Temple of the One God at the slave market. His owner then ( one of the priestesses) treated him badly and Safia required him through cunning and trickery. He was ten. She was twelve. 

Safia saw him from time to time around the temple, saw him practice battle-skills both magic and physical, skills that he'd seen and memorized with one glance. She asked the High Priestess to recommend him to be a soldier. The High Priestess took him to the Order of the Iron Hawk, an elite force of magic and battle-skills that protected the temple, the city and the Sultan. In that order. 

But like Safia, he was not an official member. Though he took vows, his vows was made to Safia and not to the order or to the one God. As he once said to Safia, "God did not save me that day in the market, you did."

The High Priestess nurtured his gratitude for Safia because she wanted him to be her guard as she went on her so-called 'mission'. And she freed him to follow Safia around as she further her education in the palace to the very slums of Sihr. On their little trips, Safia had four guards, men from the Order of the Iron Hawk. As they grew older, the guards diminishes from four to one: Arjuna. 

Safia hated the High Priestess a little for that. Because she didn't want a guard, she wanted a friend. 

To Arjuna's surprise, his time as a slave helped him learn the skills of assassination. To be a slave was to not be seen and to not be heard, to always observe, detect and to anticipate. To always expect danger and pain coming from every side. And to always suspect everyone. 

As he grew, as he trained, his self-worth slowly buildt, deeply rooted to his skills as an assassin, one that he had because of Safia. He feels deeply indebted to Safia but not because of reasons that she suspected and disliked but because of his own reasons. To him Safia was tribe, was family, she was everything that keeps him grounded in the world.

For an assassin he is not dark or broody or guilt-ridden (which of course makes him more twisted in a way), he is easy going and has a fair sense of humor. He is careful though with Safia, is very hesitant of going against her but does not tolerate her facing danger alone without him. He is very protective of Safia but does not mean he stops her from doing everything, he simply asks Safia to let him follow her as she does her business.

They have a very weird relationship, not quite friends, not quite siblings, it is a mix of both.

Safia might not take him seriously at times, but she doesn't deny that they have a connection, a bond of trust that she has with no other. She might be resentful of him at times, but it stems from her discomfort of having Arjuna so tightly bound to her by ties of obligation and duty. But if Arjuna feels at all bound, it is a binding that he welcomes, he had been, for all intents and purposes, adrift all this while. Safia gives him something that he never had; a home.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


"You are without magic and battle-skills and yet you're here in my tent. A woman alone shouldn't be so trusting."

"She is not alone." 

The disembodied voice was deep and male, it seemed to drift into their ears like smoke made out of shadows. It surprised her but not the man who was holding her tightly against him. Seconds before the voice could be heard, Sayid had rolled her down beneath him, raised himself to a crouch and had pulled his sword from its sheath.

This was not the indulgent and indolent man who had shared a meal with her or the strict and no nonsense man days before, not even the irritated, resigned man that had rescued her from death by the sun. 

She saw the flare of dark blue cloth before she was pushed away by Sayid, his sword meeting the intruder's with a sharp hissing sound.

The intruder was tall and deceptively slender, he moved with a coiled grace that belonged to desert predators. His movements were silent and misleading; the tattoos on his fingers and his black sword marked him for what he was: an assassin. Not just an assassin, but an assassin from the Order of the Iron Falcon, the elite squad that protected the Temple. Judging on the markings on his hands, one of the best. But Sayid met him blow for blow, not even blinking at the sight of an assassin inside his tent.

"Wait!" Safia stood and stepped closer to them.

"Get out and call Fauzi." Sayid ordered as he gritted his teeth, his magic seething inside him, itching to strike, hungry for blood. But the spell on his tongue halted at the sight of Safia running head long toward them and then--

--swatting the assassin with the flat of her hand, right at the side of his head like he was an errant puppy.

Copyright © 2013 by D.F. Jules,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Character: Sayid

Sayid is a desert pirate, he is in fact, the leader of the one of the most notorious desert pirates of all, the Dark Blade desert pirates. 

As a man and as a pirate he is cunning, charismatic, ruthless, calculating and most of all meticulous. His raids are planned to a T and he has the obedience and loyalty of his crew that every act and minute details of his plans are carry out precisely. They hit fast and hard and disappear into the sands before you can blink. 

His raids are so successful in fact that it is told that the desert itself hides him, that the wind blows the sail of his carts, that the animals draw back from his path, that the moon light their way home and that darkness shrouds them until they are all but shadows. 

To his crew, Sayid is fair and he expects his people to be adaptable, to be as cunning as he, and to respect the desert and to be loyal to--not him--but to their tribe; the Dark Blade. Because in Sihr, even pirates are nothing without a tribe. 

His sense of morality is...fluid, but he has them. Which is why when nagged by his crew about leaving Safia alone in the desert to die, he returns. He would have returned without the nagging, but he didn't want his crew to think he was soft. His crew was loyal, but you never know when that would change.

He will also not insert himself into a fight that he does not know the outcome. I did say he's meticulous and calculating right?

Which is why when Safia comes, he pretends to not hear her whenever she mentions the word prophecy.

Sayid is damaged as a man and as a warrior; he lost his life, his calling, his tribe and his family because of a prophecy, so as he says it would be a cold day in hell before he listens to the High Priestess's prophecy.

Sayid can be coarse and rude and thuggish-but he uses that part of him as just another kind of weapon as he uses his charm and charisma and his high-born education. Yes, you heard right, high-born.

Sayid wasn't always a desert pirate.

He was in fact a tribe-prince of one of the most successful and richest merchant nomadic tribes. His father even had the ear of the Sultan as there are family-ties through blood and marriage.

Which was the problem.

When you have wealth and power, other people will want it. And greed is a powerful motivator. 

He doesn't know what to make of Safia, the girl who seems too young to venture out alone, who walks into a den of pirates without blinking, who sits among people aiming swords at her neck without shaking. He isn't quite sure whether Safia is brave or stupid. 

His opinion of her changes with every little thing that she does. 

She has no problem with her personally, but of her purpose. The damnable prophecy, everytime her mouth shapes that word he feels the pain of watching his tribe destroyed all over again. Guilt, rage, hatred mixes with grief and knots his stomach and makes him want to scream and kill something.

On the other hand, he enjoys watching the way little ticks appear on her face everytime he does something that annoys her. Sometimes, when he's bored, he searches for her just for the sheer joy of watching the prim and proper not-acolyte blow up with frustration.

Not that he isn't suspicious that she isn't telling everything. For the High Priestess to send someone to search for him means the matter is serious, but to send a girl that has no magic and no battle-ability?

He knows that there is something more to Safia, he just have to figure out what. And for that to happen, he needs to keep her close.

Fateless is about...

So, I'm going to enter Camp NaNoWriMo in April. If you don't know, NaNoWriMo is a crazy event where people all around the world tries to write a novel (50k words) in one month.

I know. Writers are masochists. 

Anyway, for April I am going to write a new novel of mine called Fateless. 

It tells a story of betrayal, adventure, friendship, loyalty, politic, love and all that good stuff in a setting of a fantasy land called Sihr. Imagine Arabian Nights, Ali Baba and Sinbad all mushed together. 

In this land religion, culture, business and politics clashes everyday.

With religion there is the Temple of the One God and how they tend to try to override everything. Culture: the tribal leaders and the war between themselves. Business, the trade merchants vs the desert pirates. Politics: the power play between The Nobles and the young Sultan.

And if that is not enough, this is a land that feeds off magic. Interestingly, the magic of the land is divided into two: Academy Magic and Wild Magic. And both are stronger in women than men. So when woman becomes healers, sorcerers and generals, men are usually merchants, clerks, soldiers.

Our story starts with Safia who walks through a desert storm and into a cave filled with desert pirates. She talks and dresses and moves like an acolyte of the One God but she says she is not. When asked why she is there, she says she has a message for the leader of the desert pirates from the High Priestess of The One God.

Everyone knows what that means. It means a prophecy. 

How a High Priestess would experience a prophecy for a desert pirate, or feel the need to convey it, even sending off a lone acolyte to brave a desert storm in Neraka Valley (the most treacherous desert EVER, not to mentioned home to a tribe of pirates) was a mystery.

But Safia was trained to obey orders and ask no questions.

Sayid, the leader of the Dark Blade desert pirates, is not happy. He dismisses her and the words she carry from her patroness, the High Priestess with a casual disregard and a hint of long, simmering rage. 

Sayid has had his fill of Prophecies, a prophecy had wiped out his tribe and his family, he would let the sun bleach his bones rather than listen to another. 

But Safia has her orders and she will not leave until he listens to her.

They intend to leave her. She follows. They try to lose her in the Maze of Hollows. She tracks them. Finally, Sayid uses the wild magic of the desert to cover their tracks. She nearly dies. He comes back for her. 

They start a relationship of begrudging respect. 

But no matter how much she tries, he ignores her whenever she brings the topic of the Prophecy into the conversation.

Their bickering and often childish arguments amuses me mightily. 

 Copyright © 2012 by D.F. Jules

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Character: Safia Leharmua

Yuumei is one of my most favorite artist, and when I was browsing her tumblr I saw this and instantly went, "SAFIA!"

In human dreamcast though, she looks more like:

Safia, my character in Fateless is an orphan who was adopted and raised by the Temple of the One God, it's basically a nunnery. Usually orphans who received the blessings of the Temple are raised to be acolytes but not Safia. Safia was adopted by the High Priestess personally and her upkeep and training and education are the High Priestess' responsibility. This makes her hierarchy in the Temple very peculiar, most don't know how to treat her so they usually just leave her alone.

Safia herself, doesn't really know what to make of the High Priestess' interest in her. One day though, the High Priestess finally made clear of the reason she was taken in, that the High Priestess had a mission, a mission that needed her and her unique ability to succeed. From then on, her life is all about the mission; everything she does, everything she learns would be about the mission and nothing else.

Living in the temple, Safia is very prim, very serious, very proper. She dresses in the tunic and long skirts or long loose pants that the acolytes use and fashions her hair in the tight loop braids at her ears, the length of her hair covered by scarves and colorful clothes. She has a sense of humor but it's tangled up in her seriousness and dry wit. She's very capable and observant and has the ability to blend into the surroundings like a chameleon. She adapts very quickly and she's used to second guessing other people's motives so much that sometimes she over-thinks things.

Safia respects the High Priestess that took her in, and loves her and honors her vows to her. And she accepts that her value to the Priestess is how useful she can be to her cause. She knows that if she refuse her cause, Safia will be thrown the streets and have to fend for herself. The streets of Sihr is not kind to an orphaned young girl who has no skills (acceptable ones) or magic.

Does she want more out of life? Well, yes. But she knows her limits so she does what she is told. But once in a while, a wildness burns her blood.

The High Priestess often comments that Safia's worst enemy is herself for she is very passionate, very fiery but she is taught to repress; to be calm and steady when she's very much a whirl wind, a desert storm.

And when you repress that much passion, things happen. Bad things.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snippet 1

This story takes part in one of the worlds in my Three Kingdoms world, more specifically Sihr; a world with moonlit deserts and magic, picture 1001 Nights, the Dance of the Seven Veils and Prince of Persia. 

The timeline happens 20-10 years before the Three Kingdoms stars. This will be a stand alone novel, and I mean it this time. 

And yes, instead of the Guardians of Volk that I have been promising you, I will post this one because #GoV is still not fit for your eyes, it's a mess. 

Well, let's carry on. 

“And you are?”
“My name is Safia.”
“Safia Leharmua.”
Sayif blinked, the culture of their people weighed heavily on tribe and family so every person has a tribe and family name. Unless you are on the run, or you have no tribe or family for whatever reason. Those without went with just their given name, or like Safia took the name of the city where they were born, which also meant that she was a ward of the kingdom. Some eventually get adopted by either families, tribes or went into the work force.
Leharmua was the city where the Academy of Magic and the temple of the One God resided, so orphans born in Leharmua were taken care better than most because some of them, like Safia were raised by the Temple or by patrons--rich people who wanted to show off to their neighbors.
“You didn’t take your vow?”
“No, it was made clear to me that I had other purposes than to serve the One God.”
“And that is?”
She smiled. “Surely you have other important questions to ask me, for example, why is an orphan of the One God temple. disguises herself as an acolyte, ventures into Neraka valley, all alone and without a servant or two for help?”
“We do not want to interfere with Temple matters.” Sayif demurred.
“Do you not?” Her question throbbed in the air, and if Sayif didn't know any better, he would swore that she was a magic user, and since she was an orphan of the Temple, the percentage that she was one was on the high side.
“But since the question is already pointed out, why is an orphan of the One God temple doing here of all places?”
“I am here to find someone.”
“The Leader of the Dark Blade desert pirates.”
Sofia didn’t blinked when two of the men, who had been quietly placing themselves behind her, went for their swords while the one who was doing all the talking merely looked bemused.
She kept her eyes on him, she had a suspicion that he was the one to reason with. She quirked an eyebrow. “I assume that I've arrived at the right place?”

Copyright © 2012 by D.F. Jules