Monday, November 12, 2012

Changes to The Awakened: Book One

On Friday, I published revised editions of the first three books in the Awakened series.  As I mentioned in that post, Kindle owners can download the updated content for free.  I don’t know if other e-reading devices and companies have similar mechanisms for making new content available to customers, so I thought it would be a good idea to just post the new content here.

So, here is a list of the changes to Book One in order of their appearance:
 - New cover artwork by Mike Heath at Magnus Creative
 - Title changed to Awaken His Eyes: The Awakened Book One
 - Reformatted the entire manuscript for readability and consistency
 - Added a hyperlinked table-of-contents
 - Updated the Map of the Orudan Empire
 - Slight changes to the diagrams of the High Temple (profile and aerial views)
 - Put “The Prophecy” on its own page in order to highlight the context of The Awakened
 - Slightly altered the chapter organization 
 - Added two new scenes in Chapter 7
 - Added one new scene in Chapter 23
 - Pulled the first scene from Book Two and placed it at the end of Book One

Here is the new cover artwork, the updated map, and the new scenes.  Enjoy!

From Awaken His Eyes, Chapter 7

Maeryn plucked the withered leaves from a flowering plant, trying her best to keep busy and her mind engaged with some sort of distraction.  But it didn’t seem to be helping much.  Her stomach was still tied in knots and she hadn’t been able to eat anything all day.  It was now the second day since Adair had disappeared and what she had thought was just another routine absence was beginning to feel like something more ominous.
Years ago, Adair had the garden built as a gift to Maeryn, following the customs of her ancestors.  Trimmed trees and shrubs dotted the landscape, separated by rings of brightly colored flowers.  The north end of this secluded paradise was open to the hilltop courtyard, containing stables, soldiers’ housing, and various other structures, all surrounded by a pale stone wall.
As the orange rays of the setting sun made their way into the silent garden, the peace was suddenly disturbed by a commotion from the courtyard.  Maeryn rose from her seat on a low stone wall just as a group of soldiers ran past the gate to the courtyard.  The startling sight was followed quickly by another figure standing at the base of the steps outside the gate.
“Thaddius?” Maeryn called out.
The Commissioner turned suddenly.  “Governess,” he replied.  The usual kindness was gone from his eyes and he looked almost panicked.
“Thaddius, what’s happening?”
The Commissioner came quickly up the steps and into the garden.  “Do you know where Adair has gone?”
Maeryn’s heart suddenly pounded violently inside her chest.  “No.  He never tells me what he’s doing.  I thought you would—”
“No,” Thaddius answered quickly, glancing around the garden.  “He left word for me yesterday morning that he would gone for the day.  But I haven’t heard from him since.”
Maeryn suddenly felt dizzy and had to sit back down to keep from falling over.
“Commissioner!” someone called from the courtyard.
Thaddius turned and walked a few steps away while Maeryn shielded her eyes from the sunlight and breathed deeply.  The words of the soldier nearby seemed to drift to her ears as if from long distance.
“The records at the docks indicate he took one of our smallest vessels and sailed yesterday morning.  He took a minimal crew and only enough provisions for the day.”
Maeryn looked up suddenly.
Thaddius was staring at the ground with a hand on his bearded chin.
“Where did he go?” she called across the garden.
“Nucotu?” the soldier asked Thaddius in a hushed tone.
The Commissioner nodded.  “It’s two day’s journey.  I can’t think of anywhere else.”
“Where did he go?” Maeryn repeated, louder this time.  Her anger at being left out of the conversation was now beginning to show.
Thaddius turned slowly toward Maeryn, though his eyes were still fixed on the ground.  “Send a vessel to Nucotu,” he said finally.  Then he looked up at the soldier.  “Make sure they take horses and supplies.  If the Governor is not found, they’ll need to continue north and send a messenger to Leoran to notify the Council.”
The soldier nodded and walked briskly out of the garden.
“Thaddius?” Maeryn pleaded as she walked toward him.
The Commissioner now looked her in the eyes.  “Let’s just see what they find in Nucotu.”  His voice was calm, but his eyes betrayed the depth of his concern.

* * * *

Saba waded carefully through the knee-deep water of a stream that wended through the mountains north of Bastul.  Somewhere to the south, it would converge with others to form the Nescus river which ran through the middle of the city and emptied into the bay.  With each burdened step, the school of trout were driven further upstream toward a pool where Ajani crouched upon a rock, pointing.
Kael stood motionless in the water with a spear held ready over his shoulder.  His eyes were tracing their prey beneath the gentle surface.  Suddenly, he loosed his spear into the water and brought it up again with a wriggling fish impaled on its barbed tip.  He looked over toward Saba with a smile on his face.  “…dinner?”
Saba nodded with a smile of his own.
“I’ll make the fire,” Kael said, wading back to the shore where a small pile of fish had been gathered on the rocky bank.
“I’ll help,” Ajani said, rising to his feet and jumping gracefully across the boulders that were scattered through the still water.
Minutes later, Saba warmed himself by the flames while Kael added dry sticks to the fire.  Ajani was stringing the fish along a branch by their gills, readying them for cooking.  So far the short excursion was keeping the children busy and Kael’s thoughts seemed to be occupied by the tasks at hand.
As the crackling flames grew higher, Kael moved away from the heat and sat on the ground.  “Mother must be worried,” he said quietly.
Saba looked to the child, but remained silent.
“Father has been gone a long time,” Kael continued.
More silence passed before Saba finally responded.  “And what about you?”
Kael stared into the flames.  “I’m not worried.”
“Oh?” Saba replied.
Now Kael looked up.  “Father is brave.  And he’s stronger than anyone.  Nothing can hurt him.”
Saba smiled at the boy’s optimism, while inwardly he frowned at the conclusion that he’d already reached.  Adair was indeed brave and strong.  But even as he served the Empire with discipline and dedication, his primary loyalty rested with his family.  Saba had come to know the man well over the years and his respect for Adair had grown steadily with each interaction.  He already knew—without needing confirmation—that nothing short of death would keep him away from Maeryn and Kael.
“You may have your mother’s appearance, but you certainly have your father’s courage.  You are just like him,” Saba replied.
Kael’s face beamed as he looked back toward the fire.
“These are ready,” Ajani said, lifting up the row of fish.
“Good work,” Saba replied.  “Let’s take them down to the water and rinse off the dirt.  Then we can start cooking them as soon the coals are ready.”

From Awaken His Eyes, Chapter 23

As the last male servant came up the steps and out of the dry cellar, he nodded to Zula, then brushed his hands together to clear the grain dust from his palms.
Zula turned to Maeryn.  “That’s the last of it, Miss.”
Maeryn pretended to scan the preparations list in her hand while she waited for the man to finish walking out of the kitchen.  When he was gone, she looked up from the parchment that she had memorized days ago.
“We’re alone now,” Zula assured her.
Maeryn nodded.  “Alright.  I’ve received confirmation that twenty three of Bastul’s founding members will be attending the gala.  I had hoped for better participation, but this will do for now.”
“…and their servants?” Zula asked.
“I can’t know for sure, but it would be customary for some of their servants to attend with them.  After all, they wouldn’t dare lift a finger for themselves.”
Zula smiled.
“While I’m entertaining them, you’ll need to make contact with the servants and begin building relationships with them.”
Zula’s forehead creased slightly.
“This is going to be just as uncomfortable for me as it will be for you,” Maeryn assured her.  “I haven’t exactly been the most sociable Governess over the years.  But that will have to change.  These founding members and their families are the key to everything.  The servants in their charge account for the largest part of the slave population in this city.  And there’s no more practical way for us to make contact with them, than to start participating in their social circles.  I can’t stand these parties, but they’re the perfect masquerade for what we’re trying to do.”
“And what will it look like beyond the parties?” Zula asked.  “You haven’t shared what the next step will be.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Maeryn offered.  “I’ve been thinking about so many things lately.”  She realized suddenly that she been so consumed by strategizing that she had forgotten to inform her most trusted friend.
“The parties will help build goodwill between the governorship and the families directly affected by it.  But I expect that Lemus will quickly tire of the effort, even as he experiences the benefits of it.  Eventually he’ll begin to decline participation, which will give me the opportunity to become more involved—to be his representative at events he’d rather avoid.  The goodwill will continue to be nurtured.  He’ll continue to reap the benefits.  And I’ll gain more opportunities to move through the city without his suspicious eyes looking over my shoulder.  And then we’ll have plenty of occasions to visit with the wives.  That’s where the real progress will be made.  They like to share servants because it makes them feel generous.  That’s when I’ll be able to meet one-on-one with them—”
Zula was squinting but she didn’t look angry.
“What?” Maeryn asked.  “Did I say something wrong?”
“I’m proud of you, Miss,” she clarified.  “It takes courage to risk your life for the benefit of others.”
Maeryn breathed a sigh.  “Thank you.  But I don’t have to do this alone, do I?”
“No, Miss,” Zula replied with a smile.  “I can talk with other slaves at the market every day.  We’ll do this together.”
Maeryn stood a little straighter at the comforting words.  “Good.  Now we only have two days to get ready for the gala.  I’m going to see if I can get a few more families to attend.”
Zula simply nodded in response.

Click here to read about the changes to Book Two.

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