Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fantasy Walkthrough: Pillars of Natura Vol 2--Halen

So, you're there. You wake up, and the sound of rolling thunder fills you with a nameless dread that has spread from your reoccurring nightmares to your waking mind. You roll for perception. 

Well not you; Rennick rolls for perception, and since this is 3.5 Edition, and this is me writing this blog, and this is Rennick we're talking about, he rolls low. Not embarrassingly low, but low enough to come up swinging at imaginary monsters while a tribe of nomads takes off with the horses. 

Thank the Goddess Erta for Kanias--still my favorite character by the way.

Artwork by Spenn

Pillars of Natura Vol 2: Halen Fantasy Walkthrough

Some Spoilers Ahead!

These blogs posts will become useful to you as you traverse The Realmwalker Chronicles. Come back to them for a quick refresher before starting the next serial installment. 

A Brief Recap

Each novel of The Realmwalker Chronicles focuses on a particular Lani power--you will recall each of the Four Realms of Erta possess latent Lani powers; the users of those Lani are separated into societies of De'Lani: 17 unique races with their own influences and physical characteristcs. The De'Lani cannot inter-wed or interbreed. Those who do so disrupt Erta's Balance (imposed by Erta, as we will see, during The Realm Wars), and cannot return to their people. These people are known as Neph, and their children cannot receive the Yeltas (signs) of either of their parents' De'Lani. Neph children must be purified of their sin--which they inherit from their parents. Only then may they go out into the world, and marry or live out their lives, without causing further imbalance. Some Neph do die in the purification ritual during the annual Yelta Luna, a ceremonial time. When the youth of each De'Lani come of age (eighteen Yelta Lunas) they receive their Yeltas at this time. 

The Seraph are protectors of Erta's will. They possess the Diamond Lani, and can call upon each of the four Lani of their Realm. They maintain the balance, and preserve the line of the Realmwalker and his or her Successor. No one De'Lani belonging to one Realm, not even the Seraph, can use their power off of their continent--except the Realwalker. 

For more about the 17 races and De-Lani powers, journey here.

Enter Raine and Rennick Sherril, the new and long-awaited Realmwalker and Successor. The twin son and daughter to Dani and Jair Sherril, two Cou'Rali adepts tasked with the Gran Shiga, honor mission, of raising Raine and Rennick to their eighteenth Yelta Luna. We don't know much about Dani and Jair, only that they had been assigned a bizarre Gran Shiga. Rennick manifested Lani powers, which meant he would not likely survive his purification--which ended up not being necessary, as the Seraph Kanias soon discovered that Raine and Rennick were not in fact Jair and Dani's children, were not in fact born Neph, and had no need to be purified. Kanias, in a battle of confusion, kills Jair, who believed Kanias had come to disrupt his Gran Shiga. Now, with no no past and a strange future in front of them, Kanias, Raine and Rennick make for the city of Cha'Li and the Temple of Erta nestled in the Pillars of Natura, a mountain range at the West of the continent. 

The Halen De'Lani: Influence Over Creatures

The best example of the Halen De'Lani's influence in action is the Quine. Short for "equine", the Quine are a clan of horse-herders who protect horses from those who wish to ride or domesticate them against the animals' wills. Classically Native American in appearance and devoted to the land and the animals they serve, the Quine live among the horse herds of Natura, guiding and protecting them. Imagine Kanias, Raine and Rennick trekking across the Staked Plains in search of a clan of folk who can communicate with horses. The beauty of the first volume's setting of Domo Vale and Jaske Green has not diminished. It has become the open, sweeping landscape of the wind-tossed Rayvon Plains. 

Kanias, Raine and Rennick must use the Halen Lani to convince their horses, and the Quine, that they mean them no harm. Kanias has no trouble, as he is friends with his horse. Raine and Rennick's horses were pilfered from the two rogue Seraph that killed in Domo Vale. The horses had not accepted them, thus prompting the Quine to liberate them. Communicating with her mount is no great feat for Raine either. As the Realmwalker, her Lani come more quickly to her. Rennick, on the other hand, is our low roller. His tentative use and success with the Halen Lani reminds him of the task set to him by his foster father to watch over his sister (who needs him less and less), and who finds each new task set before him as daunting as the first, reminding him of his shortcomings, urging him to move to the Temple of Erta and the training that awaits him. 

Thus mastering--sort of--the Halen Lani, Kanias, the twins, and the Quine move away from a pack of birds of prey, and into a nest of a different sort.

The Murgon Hybrids

Kanias knows, and so do the twins to a certain extent, that the use of any particular Lani outside of it's home continent is not possible, so when the group comes upon a pack of roasted Rukan, giant hunting birds. What Kanias can't figure out is what is powerful enough to kill a Rukan, and furthermore, what is powerful enough to kill five of them, roast them, and eat one of them? What can kill giant hunting birds of prey, and what the Hell is that smell?

Artwork by Spenn

Originally, Kanias believed that dragons had been responsible for the great fire at Domo Vale, which swallowed up the town, and the twins' own farm, which Kanias had already torched to cover their escape. Dragons would have been just as impossible, but what these were, Kanias could not know, but there they are, two of them, eating a Rukan, with three more joining the party. Kanias can't make heads or tails of it, and in a brash judgement call, decides they are more useful alive than dead. Hoping to take them down with Maior--the Lani that controls sentient beings--all the three really do is piss the things off. The creatures are capable of spitting a substance called mastula that acts the same way napalm does: it sticks to things and burns them. Before they can all be downed with Maior, one of the creatures sets the woods on fire, forcing the three to run. Bent on destruction of any sort, and partially obsessed with the "vwoosh" sound a thing makes when it's on fire, the lead creature (with the crested head) begins to set a large fireball into motion. Using D'ware, Raine attempts to kill several of them, proclaiming to her brother that they are "untouchable", which Rennick, in a better frame of mind, knows is not true. The lead creature is able to track her movements despite the fact that she has compressed time and should not be visible to the naked eye. As Rennick runs to her aid, a strong compulsion to run emerges as the Aspect of the Erta in the Successor urges him to protect himself, to take Raine's place should she die. Pulling even harder on D'ware, Rennick extricates Raine and Kanias before collapsing into a three-day coma, in which we learn a thing.

The Realm Wars

Succinctly, the Realm Wars were begun when Darkness and Light began fighting, ending all life as it was known before Erta, the Goddess of Light and Balance, split the known world into the Four Realms: Natura, Mecho, Elementa, and Necro. It is revealed to Rennick that Erta imposed the Balance on the Four Realms to keep Darkness from rising again, and blotting out the Light. Rennick watches it unfold in his dream. His unknown future solidified for him by Erta, urging him toward the bonding with the Sword of Angios, or rather Raine's bonding to the Sword of Angios. The Balance had to be restored. The dragons, or the Murgons, appearance in Natura were clue enough that the Balance was in jeopardy. He is possessed of a singular purpose now: "never will the night be without the light." 

The March from Cha'Li to The Temple

On the road to Cha'Li (just let the name of that city roll of your tongue--Cha'Li), Kanias and the twins meet with two other Seraph, Eidan and Yenli, who announce that not only did they believe Kanias to be dead, but that almost two hundred Seraph had been massacred in firey uprisings across Natura. Kanias has a fantastic idea about who was in fact killing off the Seraph, but he keeps it to himself. Desperate to confirm Raine as the Realmwalker and restore the Realms' faith in the Balance, Kanias takes a bold risk and decides to parade Raine in full fanfare through Cha'Li, igniting the spark of love and joy in the hearts of the people, and erasing all doubt about the existence of the Realmwalker, Erta's will incarnate. Pomp and circumstance ensue, and Eidan and Yenli--and a coterie of other Seraph--formally escort the party to the temple. The parade has the desired effect: the populace basks in the glory of the Aspect of Erta, and Kanias and Rennick can watch for threats. Turns out, the only real threat they face is at the gates of the Temple itself.

Dissension in the Ranks

The Seraph are undergoing a schism. Three schools of thought now exist, each taking root in the last remaining Seraphs who saw Ge'Lion (the Realmwalker Raine had come to replace after a search spanning over 100 years) alive. Realm Master Orryn believes staunchly in the return of the Realmawalker. Grevan Martuli believes Erta has abandoned the Realms. Yoltani Albrek believes Erta will show subtle hints of her will. Each requires real proof of the existence of the Realmwalker, which Kanias hopes to prove by parading Raine through Cha'Li. Grevan, the non-believer, refuses to allow Raine and Rennick entry into the Temple without confirmation, prompting Raine to a show of force that leaves her unable to handle the Aspect as it fills her. Instead of killing everyone in the room, and Grevan in particular, she drops them all into a deep sleep, leaving herself alone with her thoughts as the novel comes to a close. 

Basic Observations

Halen is filled with the innocence, beauty, and power of the re-emergence of the Realmwalker. Volume 2 of The Pillars of Natura is filled with a hope tempered by the growing imbalance and the distrust between the Seraph and the people of Natura. There is danger at every turn, yet in Raine, faith in  Erta is restored. Raine is full of untapped potential and dangerous powers she is barely able to cope with much less fully control. Yet, with the exception of the dragon hybrids, everything around Raine and Rennick is full of life. The bustling city of Cha'Li is delightfully mundane, yet picturesque and inviting. Having only been exposed to Domo Vale and Jaske Green, Cha'Li is a thriving port city that could quickly become disorienting and exciting all at once. 

Kanias remains torn between doing his duty to the Seraph, to Erta, and also to helping Raine and Rennick. Essentially children entrusted to his care, Kanias must walk the fine line between care-giver, guardian, and Seraph. 

The divide between the Seraph is expanding, and it was sinfully delightful to watch Grevan turn his nose up at Raine after the blind acceptance of the other people of Natura, and it was equally great to see Raine beat him down, though the cost of her blunder in the attempt of the beat-down has yet to be determined. 


Book 1 of The Realmwalker ChroniclesThe Pillars of Natura continues along it's path of hope and destruction. Look for Volume 1 and Volume 2 on sale now in both paperback and Kindle from Amazon, and on therealmwalkerpublishing.com.