Friday, January 30, 2009

Inspiration from Tolkein

I put up a post on my Ransomed Heart blog about how, whenever I get discouraged about writing my book, I go back and read about Tolkein's struggles to finish The Lord of the Rings. If he could complete such a massive project in the midst of raising a family, a demanding job, and a World War, then certainly I can finish mine!

My Ransomed Heart Blog - Inspiration from Tolkein

Nailing Faldur

I think I finally nailed my hero, Faldur. I have him right where I want him, on the end of an emotional pin point - the poor, brave, stubborn, repressed male that he is!

You see, he's been in love with Marenya for at least a decade, but has been so afraid of his feelings that he has completely denied them. Although it is perfectly obvious to everyone else, he didn't recognize the strength of his own attachment to her... even to the point of wishing she'd marry one of his best friends. That way she'd be safe, happy and provided for while he was off saving the world.

Don't be too hard on him as you read this. Saving the world - or at least his corner of it - is dangerous, especially in a magical environment. He really didn't want to leave a widow and some kids behind to fend for themselves. She lost her father that way, and he didn't want to put her through it again. Not only that, he wasn't sure he could be as brave as he needed to be with a family to worry about.

He was doing it for her. He was doing his duty to his country, and his King.

Until now.

She put herself in danger to save him, allowing herself to be taken hostage by the Bad Guys. In the process she is nearly killed, and by sheer willpower he keeps her from dying. Now he's trying to protect her from hypothermia in her weakened state, while dealing with the newfound revelation of his heart.

Someone asked me recently what my book was about. It was one of those really embarassing dinner party questions, when I couldn't think of a coherent answer. I was so deeply involved in the current scenes I was writing, that I literally couldn't describe the forest for the trees. My friend, a librarian, asked, "Is it a romance?" I replied, "In the classical sense, yes. Knights and dragons and ladies in distress. But it's not a romance novel."

It does have a romantic subplot, however, and that has been the crux of my difficulty in writing. Although this subplot is a rich source of material, it is very hard to keep from "overwriting" the scenes between the two characters. But my test reader has told me that she can't relate to the hero; he's too closed. I do have to go back eventually and write a bunch of missing scenes from his point of view. But I agree with her - we haven't been given enough insight into his character yet.

Until last night. I think I nailed him! Whew!

Background: There was a snowstorm, and he has been trying to keep her warm while she lay unconscious from loss of blood. She has finally regained consciousness.

He lay with her in the pine-scented dark, rejoicing in the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. His face was still pressed against hers, and his limbs wrapped around her so that the warmth flowed between them. She felt so fragile, he was afraid to move. He felt fragile also, as if something he had carefully wrapped up in many layers of protection had been suddenly ripped open and exposed. I do need you. The words burned in his throat, but he couldn’t say them.
“Where are we?”
“There was a snowstorm. We’ve all taken refuge under the trees for the night.”
“Oh.” She paused. “That would explain why it’s so cold.” She began to shiver.
He held her tightly, but the shivering didn’t stop. He remembered his flask and felt around for it. There was just a little
velash left, which he gave to her. Her body stilled as the warmth of the brandy spread through it.
“I think it’s time to light a fire. Stay here.”
“Yes,” she said weakly. “I’ll do that.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Symbolism

I have been thinking a lot about the symbolism in my novel. Much of it arose naturally, but I didn't realize the significance of what I was doing until I read Finding God in Harry Potter, by John Granger. The book inspired me to deepen the symbols I was already using, and to attempt to use them more powerfully. I just wanted to put up part of the chapter on symbolism ("Evidence of Things Not Seen") here, because it was so inspiring.

"Man, as an image and likeness of God, is a living symbol -- both in the sense of transparency through which we look and of an opening through which God enters the world... The tragedy of man's fall is that, because most people no longer believe they are symbols of God, shaped in his likeness... the world is often denied access to God through his chosen vessel.

"We are still moved, however, by the symbols in nature and the symbols we experience in story form. This is the power of myth: that we can experience invisible spiritual realities and truths greater than visible, material things in story form. Tolkein described Christianity as "The True Myth," the ultimate intrusion of God into the world through his incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. Tolkein's explanation of this idea was instrumental in C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity; it is this understanding of the purpose and power of story that gives fiction its depth, breadth and height."

Finding God in Harry Potter by John Granger, Salt River Press 2004, p. 86


This morning I quickly typed out an Introduction to "The Golden Gryphon." What do you guys think???



The history you are about to read relates to a race of people called the Hanorja, who lived in an indeterminate region of the world, at an indeterminate time. In fact, until this manuscript landed on the desk of a junior editor at Bracefort & Smith in New York City in 1871, their existence was completely unknown. Even after that, it remained unknown to all but the junior editor, who put it aside and promptly forgot it.

The book resurfaced in 2003, when the basement of the old publisher’s building was being renovated for a cyber cafe. Hundrededs of old, unpublished manuscripts were discovered rotting on the shelves. The owner of the building had no use for them, so the workmen did what all modern people do when they find something unusual and of unknown value: they sold them on EBay. Which is how I happened to purchase The Legend of the Golden Gryphon as a birthday present for myself, for the grand sum of seventeen dollars and forty cents.

It was a present that would consume all of my free time for the next six years. Written in a spidery, Victorian hand and damaged in places by mold and damp, it took two years for me to decipher the text and enter it it into Microsoft Word. Then I began contacting scholars to find out more about the Hanorja. I started with the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, then the Smithsonian, and even had the temerity to send a letter to the British Museum. The gentleman at the British Museum who responded to my letter, a Dr. Raymond Fothergood, was exceptionally kind and took the pursuit of the Hanorja upon himself as his pet project. Being semi-retired at the time, he observed that there was “nothing like a challenging puzzle to keep the mind sharp.”

The result of Dr. Fothergood’s considerable efforts was absolutely nil. There is no record anywhere of any race calling themselves Hanorja, although one theory is that they were associated with Hanover, Germany. However, the syllables of the Hanorjan language imply a Latin and Celtic association, not Germanic. As well, there are references to distinctly American flora in the text, such as aspens, which cause me to believe that they actually migrated from Europe to the New World prior to Columbus, and lived somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Fothergood thinks this is the result of translation of the original text by an American. We will probably never know.

What we do know is that they were a gentle people, possessed of some magical ability inferior to that of elves, mainly that of nurturing and protecting. This ability itself may explain why nothing is known about them; they may have suceeded in hiding themselves completely from other races. They were about four feet in height, and the men (or hamen) were beardless. The exceptions to this were the Kings, who were tall enough to ride horses and grew venerable beards in their old age. They seemed to have had fair skin, upon which freckles were considered a mark of beauty, and eyes of varying shades of blue and green. They loved poetry and music, and decorated their homes inside and out with colorful painting similar to the gesso-style decoration still seen in many parts of Europe.

There do not appear to be any living descendents of them now. They were either wiped out, or assimilated by men, long ago. Any dwellings or artifacts which may have remained behind would naturally have been attributed to men. Perhaps those artifacts are even now scattered in the museums of the world, patiently awaiting discovery.

In the meantime, we can get to know them best through the little book which you now hold in your hands.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Prologue

If anyone is interested in the new, improved Prologue to the book, I am posting it here. It's too long to put up on Writing Moms.

The Golden Gryphon


A new moon hung low over the shoulders of the mountains as two figures sat huddled in a crevice, sheltered by a stand of aspens that rattled their branches in the chill wind. They were hamen, of the race of the Hanorja, the mysterious, part-magical folk that dwelt in the foothills of the Dagger Mountains. Some said they were akin to men, and some to elves, and some said neither at all. They themselves knew only that they were Hanorja, and that their ancestors had come over the mountains in ages past.

The two were hooded and cloaked, and had drawn themselves up to a dark fire. One was taller and broader of shoulder; he stared into the purple flames with his head bowed, as if a great weight were upon him. The other was shorter, leaner and had propped his back against a rock with a quiet watchfulness, mouthing an unlit pipe. He was Faldur, a captain of the King’s Rangers that patrolled the mountain border. His companion was Prince Melbrinor, eldest son of King Elmoran and Faldur’s closest friend.

They had been following another haman into the mountains, a lord protector, or Delfenward, called Chalmeth, whom they suspected of plotting against the King. He had led them to Blackpool – an opening in the rocks into which a waterfall poured with thundering force. At the edge of this pool, Chalmeth’s trail had stopped; it was as if he had vanished along with the water.

Faldur and Melbrinor could see a cave behind the waterfall, but it was protected by the relentless onslaught of the falling water, and there was no other entrance anywhere on the mountainside. They had assured themselves of this in the course of a long, discouraging day spent examining every foot of the surrounding rocks, and had finally sought shelter in a cleft a short distance below the falls. The roar of the water was not so deafening here, though it still mocked them.
“He can’t have possibly entered that cave, so where is he?” asked the Prince in a low voice.

Faldur stretched his well-worn boots to the fire. The soles were getting thin in places; he could feel the hot spots on the bottom of his feet. “Perhaps he sprouted wings and flew away.”

“Or perhaps he was taken. An eagle?” said Mel without conviction.

Faldur shook his head. “No blood.”

“Perhaps he fell in.”

“We wouldn’t be that lucky.”

The Prince and the Captain fell silent as the wind shook the trees, and both pulled their cloaks more tightly around themselves. They had come up on foot, leaving their mounts with the rest of the patrol at the base of the mountain. Faldur was tired and his thoughts drifted to a warm bed and hot food. They were not too far from Glenhym Castle; once this mess was sorted out, he and his men could stop there for a few days, and he would see Marenya again. Marenya, with her slim, capable hands, and eyes the color of the evening sky.

With an effort, he pulled himself back to the present. He closed his eyes and relaxed his mind, thinking of everything and nothing. The sound of the waterfall filled his consciousness. The only thing that stood in the way was the water.

Water that disappeared.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes. “The water isn’t there!”

“What?” Mel looked up, his eyes gleaming purple in the reflected firelight.

“What can you see from the top of the falls?”

“Nothing, it’s blocked by a ledge,” the Prince replied.

“So where does it come from?”

“The snows above. Presumably.”

“And where does it go?”

“Into the earth.”

“And disappears!” Faldur jabbed his pipe in the air.

“You think it’s magic.”

“Protecting the cave, yes. Chalmeth’s trail leads right up to the edge and disappears. There is a ledge around the side of the pool that could easily be used to enter the cave - if the water wasn’t there.”

“But it is there,” said Mel. “We can hear it, we can see it, we can feel the spray. It would take a very powerful magic to create such an illusion.”

“There was very powerful magic in these mountains, not too long ago.” Faldur paused, then said more softly, “And Chalmeth is not the first Hanor to disappear.”

The Prince was quiet for a long moment. “You think that this cave could be the way that Raynor went?”

“I don’t know. I only know that Chalmeth disappeared. Perhaps the water can be stopped somehow.”

Mel shook his head. “Even Raynor could not have done so. I am sure that I could not, and I have studied much longer than he did.”

“Then it is an illusion. I am sure of it. The water isn’t really there.” Faldur rose to his feet. “Let me test my idea. I am willing to risk it.”

“Very well,” said Mel, rising also. “But I insist that you let me tie a rope around you. I can ill afford to lose a captain just now.”

“And I can ill afford to be lost.”

With a wave of his hand and a whispered command, Mel extinguished the fire. He produced a rope from his pack and slung it over his shoulder. Silently, the two hamen crept from the crevice and climbed up the rocks to the base of the waterfall. The roaring of the water pounded in their ears. Faldur’s eyes moved up the black wall to the shadowed ledge above them from which the water issued, glinting silver in the weak light of the sickle moon. He removed his boots and cloak, putting them carefully aside.

Mel raised his hand and an apple-sized orb of light floated up from it to rest a few feet from their heads. “This is not work for the dark,” he said, nodding at Faldur and tossing him the rope.

Faldur fastened it tightly around his waist. He focused his gaze on the rim of the pool, which curved back into the cave as if carved by the falling water. It was slick but solid and flat, about two feet wide. He took a long, slow breath, released it, and stepped onto the rim.

The rock was as slick as it looked. He walked carefully, feeling the cold wetness on the soles of his feet. He went forward until the wall of water was directly in front of him. He stretched out his hand, hoping that it would pass right through.

It did not.

The force of the flow grabbed his arm and thrust it downward. Losing his balance, Faldur fell into the pool and was immediately sucked towards the bottom. It was icy cold, piercing him like needles. He held his breath and focused on finding the surface again, beating with all his strength against the current that pressed on his head and shoulders, forcing him further under. The rope around his waist tightened; Mel was pulling him up. Faldur felt as if he would be torn apart at the middle as the rope caught his ribcage. He felt rock beneath his feet and kicked off of it sideways as hard as he could, out of the flow of the downward current. It worked; he could feel himself moving slowly upward.

Then his shoulder collided against the rocks at the side of the pool. Reeling with pain, he scrambled to hold onto them and climb up again. His lungs were burning; he needed air. The current was still drawing him down and he lost his hold. Scrambling, he couldn’t find the rocks again. He was starting to lose the feeling in his arms and legs. He opened his eyes, looking for the light at the surface but couldn’t see it. He felt a roaring in his veins. Kicking with the last of his strength, he felt for the rocks again, this time groping them with the tips of his fingers.

And then the current suddenly stopped. The falls were silent and the water drained away beneath him with a loud gurgling that echoed eerily in the chamber beyond.

“Hold on!” Mel shouted. Faldur gasped and shivered, breathing deep, ragged breaths. He felt the rope hauling him upwards, and with a great effort he climbed up the slippery rocks to the rim. Finally, he felt Mel’s hand clasp his wrist and scrambled over the edge. Mel threw his discarded cloak around him and Faldur curled up into it, shivering violently.

“Thank you,” he whispered hoarsely, when he could speak.

“The water stopped by itself,” Mel replied.

Before Faldur could answer, they both heard the sound of murmured voices approaching them from inside the cave. Immediately, Mel reached up and caught the light he had made, extinguishing it. They crouched down in the shadows near the rocks where Faldur had climbed out. Faldur sensed rather than felt something like a fine gauze fall over them; the prince had cast a hiding spell. The blood was starting to flow again in his limbs. The pain was excruciating and he wanted to cry out.

Instead, Faldur closed his eyes and turned inward, searching for the calm, bright center of his being. Before he found it, however, he felt a golden warmth spreading through him, starting at his chest and filling his entire body as the pain left him. Mel had placed a hand on his heart and restored him more quickly than he could have restored himself. It was one of the gifts of the Hanorja, magnified by the blood inheritance and training of the King’s son.

Faldur opened his eyes and strained to see inside the cave as the footsteps and voices drew nearer. Soon, two figures emerged from the darkness. They were unrecognizable from this distance, but their voices echoed weirdly in the dripping cavern. One carried a crystal lantern in which a white flame flickered.

“Remember what I told you,” said the taller of the two, who towered over his companion by a full two feet. His voice was rich in timbre, young and full of confidence. “Wait until the day after the wedding, when everyone is overcome from celebrating. No blood is to be spilled except in self-defense. Do you understand?”

“Yes, elevja,” replied the other quickly. It was Chalmeth. He used the old Hanorjan word for royalty. Elevja. Uplifted one.

“Good. Do not put the men in place too soon, lest they be discovered.”

Chalmeth bowed slightly.

“And do not take more than was taken from you. You are not to seek revenge, only justice.”

Chalmeth bowed again.

The other stood still for a moment, regarding him. Then he lifted the lantern and they could see Chalmeth’s long, wolfish face clearly in its light. The speaker raised his hand and Chalmeth stiffened, staring at the light as if he had been frozen. Faldur strained to see the taller Hanor’s face, but he could not, for it was turned away from him. All that he could see was that he was dressed in black, with strange designs embroidered in gleaming red strands upon his cloak and that his hair was pale gold and fell in loose waves down his back, nearly as long as a hawin’s.

“Do not try to deceive me, Chalmeth. I know what is in your heart. I will give Lord Tarnbel back his land and cut your throat myself if you harm one hair of his family’s head. Do you understand me?”

Chalmeth nodded stiffly and the other lowered his hand. Chalmeth's body relaxed to its normal posture.

“Very well. Go,” said the tall one. He lowered the lantern and extended his hand again, this time clasping Chalmeth’s wrist in the traditional manner of farewell. “Aden fath, Chalmeth.”

Vebril kelfa,” replied Chalmeth. He turned aside and, quickly and carefully, made his way along the ledge of the pool and down the mountain path.

The tall one stood looking after him a moment. Then he turned, and Faldur and Mel could finally see his face. Faldur felt as if he himself had been frozen as he looked. The haman before them, with the long hair and strange clothing, was almost the image of Mel himself. The last time they had seen him, he had been a determined, impetuous young Prince of twenty-nine. Now he seemed much older than the five years that had passed since he disappeared.

It was Raynor. The prince’s brother.

Raynor turned his head slowly back and forth, surveying the darkness, and then stopped, staring in their direction. He smiled then - a wry, tired smile as if something unexpected had occurred to him - and for the briefest second, Faldur felt the spell over himself and Mel flicker like a curtain in a wisp of breeze. He must have imagined it, however, for Raynor’s gaze passed over them and, turning, he retraced his steps back into the cave.

As soon as he had moved out of sight, Mel jumped up and followed. He ran silently in his soft-soled boots, intent upon the bobbing lantern light reflecting off the walls in the back of the cave. Faldur ran after him, falling a little behind for the prince’s legs were longer. Just as Mel reached the spot where Faldur had fallen in, there was a rushing sound above them. Mel jumped back and Faldur grabbed his shoulders, thrusting them both sideways as the water came down in a solid, thundering sheet right where they had been standing.

Mel rose to his feet and stared after his brother. Faldur put his hand on the Prince’s shoulder. “We should go back down right away. It is not safe to wait until morning.”

Mel nodded and the two of them returned silently to camp, preparing to make the weary march down in the darkness. Faldur was bitterly regretting his swim.

“I must go to my father,” said Mel. “Go to Glenhym and warn Tarnbel, tell him to prepare a defence. I don’t trust Chalmeth. The Rangers can serve as reinforcements, and I'll send soldiers as well.”

“What of Pelwyn?” Faldur asked. Lady Pelwyn, Lord Tarnbel’s daughter, was soon to be Mel’s wife. Their wedding was scheduled to take place on the first day of summer and she was due to depart in a few days. Her father was planning to accompany her on the six-day journey to King Elmoran’s seat at Tor Aden.

“Escort her yourself. Tell the Delfenward not to alter the schedule, but to send her ahead. He can follow as soon as he is able. It would probably be wise for him to pretend to go with her as far as the Forest, then circle back. We don’t want to reveal our hand.”

“Say as little to Pelwyn as possible; I don’t want to frighten her,” added Mel, frowning. “Swear her father and brothers to secrecy. Chalmeth won’t harm her, for the wedding is essential to his plans, but all the same I want her safe.” He paused, grasping his friend’s arm. “Promise me you will bring her yourself. She is more precious to me than my own life.”

Faldur clasped his hand over the Prince’s. “I promise. We will be at Tor Aden in ten days at the most.”

“Promise me also that you won’t speak of Raynor to anyone until I have seen my father.”

Faldur nodded.

The Prince raised his pack onto his back with a jerk of his shoulders, and settled it into a comfortable position. Faldur did the same, and they started down the mountain in the silver-black darkness.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mother to Another

I was looking through the files on my hard drive, trying to clear off some space, and came across a number of short devotional articles that I wrote several years ago for our MOPS newsletter, as well as some other scribblings. So I decided to pull some of those up and share them here.

This is my favorite, a poem I wrote for my son when he was first born.

Mother to Another

I’m a mother to another
Precious thought! A mother, I?
Tiny creature
like a birdling
Hungry mouth and small, bright eyes.

I’m a mother to another
How my heart leaps to the sky!
Settle softly, tiny nestling
Feel my heartbeat
Cuddle by

I’m a mother to another
My world flutters on your sigh
Gently drowsing
Deeply breathing
Slowly closing
Small, bright eyes

(c) Christine Hardy 2002

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank you, President Bush

I watched your speech in Midland last night and was just so glad to see that you and Laura are home again. You seemed so relaxed and happy to be back on Texas soil. I have prayed for you for eight long years, and still get choked up when I realize how different things would have been if the 2000 election had come out differently... it was all hanging by a thread. But I truly believe that God put the best man in place to handle what was to come, for only He knew it was coming.

My husband and I have cherished your Christmas cards and the invitations to the inaugurals. I feel that Laura has been the most gracious, stately, warm and lovely First Lady in my lifetime. Your choice of her as your life's partner speaks volumes, as does her choice of you.

I know that you have borne an incredible burden; I have watched you age much more than eight years while in office. You have been slandered and reviled while in office as I believe no other president ever has in our whole history, and you have carried yourself with a dignity and humility that puts your detractors to shame. You have been the best ambassador of hope and peace our country could have had in these hostile times, have done more for minorities than any other president, and have diligently and tirelessly protected our country from attack for more than seven long years. You removed from power one of the most repulsive, evil dictators the world has ever known, while conducting the most civilian-friendly war the world has ever known.

I pray now that you will be protected from the persecution of your enemies, both afar and at home, and be able to enjoy the long-deserved rest and honor of your labors.

May God bless you and Laura richly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Questions for my Test Readers

Dear Readers,
I have some questions for your regarding my book. Here they are:

1. Did the shift in point-of-view from Faldur to Marenya at the very beginning of the book bother you?

2. Do you think that Marenya's introduction, regarding the clothes in front of the fire and hiding in the closet, make you take her less seriously?

3. Does Faldur seem more like a leading man or a sidekick, and do you like him enough to want them to get together in the end?

4. In the first version, Gorrith died rather than just being badly hurt. Do you think I should kill him?

5. Does the party scene in the forest seem totally borrowed from C.S. Lewis? I think, subconsciously, it might be and am thinking of cutting out the whole thing, or at least seriously altering it.

6. Does Brambleburr seem too ridiculous?

7. Do the haggiths seem ridiculous?

8. I think there is a serious problem in the beginning, with the whole set-up for leaving Glenhym without Pelwyn's father. I wanted to separate her from the father figure early on, which is why I set that up. The danger - Chalmeth's threats - is great enough to keep him home, but apparently not great enough to concern him too much with Pelwyn's safety on the road. My idea was that this is a very chivalrous society; we are not talking about barbaric humans in the middle ages, but Hanorja who are kind of like sophisticated hobbits. However, the whole thing rings false to me.
Any ideas on how to handle that?

9. Do the phrases in Hanorjan add to, or detract from, your enjoyment of the story?

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll think of some more later. Thank you so much!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Golden Gryphon Update

I am now at 61,972 words. I can't believe it! Marenya and Faldur have finally been reunited. Marenya is almost out of the caves. She has been there for over a year while I went back to the beginning of the book and started over. Now I have to untangle their relationship, as well as untangling the plot.

I still haven't decided if Faldur will be present at the final battle scene. Part of my vision for his character is for him to realize that not all of the important battles take place on the battlefield. I'm seriously thinking of letting it be something that they hear about afterwards, when everyone is at home with their feet up. It would make a nice change from most fantasy fiction, which is blood and battles galore, although some readers might feel cheated. I definitely don't want to let the readers down!

I also have a very practical, technical problem, because the two of them are my only point-of-view characters and they probably won't make it to the battle in time because she is seriously wounded. Another option is to make Pelwyn a POV character, which in some ways I would really like to do, but I'm afraid it would complicate things too much, although she is in the handy position of being stuck at the center of attack.

We'll see.

Right now, I'm just going to keep writing and see what happens!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

There is no fireside like your own fireside

The above is an Irish proverb which is carved into one of the ceiling beams of my favorite pub. The pub, although it exudes authentic Irishness, is actually a theme restaurant in an upscale shopping center near Cleveland, Ohio, but the adage is true none the less. There is no fireside like your own fireside.

Which is why I'm glad I insisted when we were looking for houses that we have a fireplace. Not one of those fake gas logs, or (Heaven forbid!) a portable, vent-free facade, but a genuine, wood-burning, smoke and ashes fireplace. I could stare into the flames for hours, alternately musing over the chemical mysteries of this unusual form of oxidation, and being transported in my mind to some distant fire on a lonely hillside, where travellers huddle for warmth on their journey to somewhere terrible and wonderful and dangerous and exciting.

I have a bad cold and should be resting, but so many ideas are flickering through my mind as I gaze at the flames that I had to come and sit down at the computer and write something. Most of these ideas are tied up with my current novel, The Golden Gryphon. There is a lot of fire in it: the fiery red-gold precious metal called fieriengor; the molten light that shines between the feathers of the magical gryphons; the campfires of my weary travellers as they journey in secret through many dangers; the torches in the hidden mountain fortress that burn in readiness for evil deeds; the deep, dark, molten fire like thick lava that bides patiently in the depths for its awakening; and, most important of all, the fire that burns at the heroes' own fireside, waiting for them to return, put their feet up, and be comfortable and safe once again.