Bullying. Bias. Judgment. Almost daily we see news reports and articles about someone being treated negatively because he or she is different. Yet, it’s those differences that make the world an interesting place. I couldn’t imagine living in a world of cookie cutter people like me. So when I started to write my story, I focused on creating something that was entertaining, but carried a strong message.
This is the fundamental message behind my novel, The Journey of the Marked, and the related series. Regardless of ability or appearance, everyone can contribute, everyone can make a difference.
The Miyran Heir
While I wanted to highlight the advantages of differences, I also wanted to write something entertaining that I loved, which led me down the path of gritty sci-fi mixed with high fantasy. My story takes place on a different world and, while there are Humans, I created a number of species, each with unique abilities, which allowed me to highlight ways their various strengths were important.
There’s the Plinte that are land-based, but have breathing slits that allow them to breathe underwater. They’re raised to fight, which is a carryover from their culture prior to landing on the planet. Then there’s the Liput — While they don’t train to fight, the Liput are extremely skilled mechanics and can be quite clever. As well, there’s the Krystic female, a beauty that can tame even the scariest of beasts on the planet. The Krystics tend to avoid fighting, as well, but if properly trained, have some unique skills that are useful.
The dire circumstances on the planet throws a group of teenagers together, attempting to reach a training camp while being hunted. While tempers flare, they must learn to work together and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses in order to survive.
The fundamental concept of the book will continue throughout the series. And, of course, where there are differences, there’s also often persecution. So don’t be surprised if that surfaces in various forms in the series.
Let’s talk a little more about the Graeliths, the species in The Journey of the Marked that hunts the marked youth. To set the stage, here’s a brief recap on their physical attributes: They stand on two legs, but are closer to animals than other species on their world. The males and females have similar appearances, though larger size and quantity of body hair generally indicates male, as does the tenacity to hunt. They lack the agility and speed to hunt alone, usually working in groups to trap their prey. They have translucent eyes that glow in darkness and are barely noticeable in light. Large, pointed ears sit near the top of the head.
The depiction on the left was created by my artist, Em Wright, as part of the market scene from the story. This picture is currently visible in full on my Facebook Page. We kept him in the shadows to keep some mystery. However, you’ll be excited to see that we (and I mean Em) have created an image in more detail for book two, The List.
The image on the right should give you a clearer idea of how they might appear. They are wolf-like, but more humanoid than animal.
The Graeliths lived on Zolei (the planet on which the story takes place) before the Miyran and their supporters arrived. The two groups negotiated an agreement. The Graeliths would allow the Miyran to settle on portions of Zolei they didn’t inhabit and, in return, the Miyran would protect the planet from those that would plunder it for resources.
As more species arrived, seeking refuge on Zolei, discontent increased among certain of the population. But the real catalyst for the current conflict was the arrival of the Tyrnotts. As you learn in book one, the objective of their leader, Nord, is to disrupt the protections of Zolei and allow another species access to its wealth, even enslaving the current population.
While the Graeliths originally welcomed the Miyran, something changed their view and drove them to hunt any supporting that side of the conflict. The Miyran place a mark to draw sixteen-year-old youth into the conflict, but the Graeliths have an uncanny ability to sense the mark, which makes them the perfect hunters.
As The Journey of the Marked progresses, you see certain of the marked youth began to question hostility toward the Graeliths. Not outwardly, but in the form of curiosity as to why the Graeliths now hate the Miyran and their supporters. The question then is what drives the Graeliths current position in the struggle and can anything be done to once again reason with them?
Gornith: Leader among the Graeliths