As I wait anxiously for the theatrical release of the new Ghost in the Shell live-action movie starring Scarlet Johansson, I have been jotting down some notes (mostly to help me gather my thoughts for when I review the movie).
The first thing worth mentioning about the new Ghost in the Shell movie is that for the first time in the character incarnation of Motoko Kusanagi will have valuable character input by a female--mainly the lead actress Scarlet Johansson.
This is wonderful, considering only males writers have handled the iconic heroine thus far. And although she is performing a story written by male writers, she will bring with it the input and experience of a woman--and I find that is a complete win win (even if I think she was sorely miscast).
The film comes out March 31st in the U.S. and April 7th her in Japan.
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What's it about?
Harry Potter clashes with Beauty and the Beast in T. Ariyanna’s stunning steampunk debut...
Arion was born different. After enduring years of torment at the hands of his abusive father, the arrival of his thirteenth birthday reveals a shocking secret... he has magic. Arion discovers he’s a Mage, a magical person able to craft intricate pieces of technology and do incredible things. Arion is hopeful that maybe, his newfound abilities will help him fit in for the first time in his life.
Then a rouge spell goes awry, and Arion is unable to contain its consequences. Arion finds himself scarred with the face of a beast and fighting to contain a malicious, wisecracking demon, who’s taken up refuge inside his head. Declared a devil by the townspeople, Arion flees to an enchanted castle hidden within a dark forest. He continues to practice magic, while attempting to win the heart of Kaitlyn, the kindly maiden who has befriended him. But can Kaitlyn’s beauty tame the evil inside? After all, who could ever love a monster?
In her first novel, T. Ariyanna weaves a dark tale full of twisted humor that spirals to a shocking ending. Filled with action, adventure, and romance, The Mage’s Son is a young adult steampunk fantasy novel that will have readers eagerly seeking the next installment in the Of Magic series.
The Mage's Son by T. Ariyanna
Lightning flashed. The boy flinched backwards in the center of the large entrance room. The stone was cold beneath his legs. He shivered, his vision filled with the green light from outside. The lightning subsided, leaving only the heavy rain to drum against the stained glass windows set high in the walls before him. Two giant, wooden doors shook on their hinges, and the boy feared for a moment they’d be blown off. His thin lips spread into a smile. She wouldn't let her home be weaker than a simple storm, he told himself.
He tapped his long red talons on the pure white skin of his leg. He watched the door closely with his near perfectly black eyes, a thin ring of light hazel glinting in his left eye.
Though the boy looked at least eight, he had only been alive for two years. He couldn't remember being any younger, or smaller. It was just how his mother made him.
“Two years today,” he reminded himself. “She'll come to see me today. She has to.”
He allowed his attention to wander, gazing at the majesty of the castle around him. The brick walls were high, covered in tapestries of dragons, pixies, and other creatures he hadn't yet learned about. He had asked about them before, but mother had simply reminded him that he needed to learn about himself first. A large chandelier floated above him, only magic holding it suspended in the air, its candles lit with a faint blue flame. Other small flames danced throughout the room without candles or wicks. He had spent many days chasing them like will o' wisps, and Cyllorian smiled at them.
His mother preferred to decorate in the medieval time period of knights and heroes, but the castle was littered with technology and machines that only Mages could create. Thinking of them, Cyllorian scoffed. Humans were idiots to hate the Mages, and their skills in magic and technology. But humans were stubborn, and determined to prove that their way of life was the right way. He laughed to himself, thinking of all the struggles humans put themselves into simply because they couldn't accept what was different from them.
A ball of fire danced in front of his face, embers dusting his cheeks. He grazed his fingertips along the edge, the crisp heat more pleasurable than anything he’d ever experienced. He longed to chase the lights again. But he clenched his fists, determined to wait, like he had done every day for the past year since his mother had left unexpectedly. Though he had been left alone, he was more than capable of taking care of himself, given that he didn't need to eat.
His eyes began to droop to the music of the rain flooding the outside world, lulling him to sleep. Thunder roared beyond the walls, and he jolted to attention. The doors were quivering violently, and the boy shifted on the floor.
A light shone from under the door, a soft red glow that sunk into every crack in the floor. The boy crawled forward slowly. He was inches away from the ring of light, stretching his fingers to it, and it reached for him in response. He touched the pointed tips of his nails to the glow's rim, and the doors flew open.
He jumped back, turning his back to the door and covering his head with his arms. The rain no longer sounded peaceful. It had broken into his home, growling like a beast ready to devour him.
“Cyllorian,” a woman's voice rasped from behind him. The boy jumped to his feet, and stared in wonder at the woman in the doorway. Lightning flashed again, showing the wear that had befallen the woman since he had last seen her.
She was drenched from head to toe, a black cloak clinging to her frail figure. Her hands were red with blood, and they shook uncontrollably. She was slumped over a large wolf the color of night, with brown tipped ears, feet, and muzzle. A hand clutched at her middle, obsidian hair wild and pasted to her skin. Her dark eyes, dotted with stars, were flat and lifeless.
“Mother!” Cyllorian yelled. She flinched at his words, causing her to lose her balance and fall to the ground, coughing. He ran to her side and she clenched her fist, but not before he saw the blood within it. “Where have you been this past year? What's happened to you? Please, Mother, tell me.”
The boy flailed his hands over her, looking for any way to help, but he could find no injuries or ailments. She jerked away from his touch, and he dropped his hands into his lap.
“Move aside, boy. We must get her someplace safe. My lady, you need rest,” the wolf said, shoving Cyllorian away with his muzzle. The boy fell backwards, watching the woman with immense concern.
“What happened to her?” he asked again. Her eyes were beginning to droop, and Cyllorian noticed a small pool of blood forming around her feet. The wolf gazed at him for a long moment, something shining in his eyes that the boy couldn't place.
The wolf shook his head softly, and then turned back to the woman. “Theresa, my lady, we need to move you. Can you stand?”
“I can,” she said. There was more strength in her words for how ill she looked. She latched onto the door and pulled herself to her feet. She swayed in place, gripping the door with both hands to steady herself. A gasp escaped her lips, and her legs nearly gave out beneath her, but she held herself up.
“My lady! You mustn't exert yourself! Please, you must rest. You haven't much strength left,” the wolf barked, dancing in front of her. He waited for her to fall, but she held herself upright.
She placed a hand on the wolf's back and took a step forward, nearly falling to the ground once more. “Come, Goyik, my Alpha. I must go to my tower.”
“No, my lady, you won't make it. I must take you somewhere safe to rest.”
“My tower!” she snapped, moving forward again. The wolf whined at her side, but leaned into her as they made their way across the room to the stairs.
Cyllorian had been kneeling silently at his mother’s side, trying to find some explanation for all of this.
“Cyllorian,” the woman called. “Make sure the doors are locked properly, then join us.”
“Yes, Mother,” he whispered, though she was no longer listening. He watched her strength flee from her with every step until the two reached the stairs. He turned away as wolf and woman stumbled up them, Theresa having to stop every few steps to cough.
Cyllorian launched himself at the doors, fighting against the wind to close them. Holding them in place, he flicked his hand toward a wooden beam, and it magically shot across the doors. They rattled against the force of the wind, and thunder roared just as the doors were closed. Cyllorian jumped back, his hands held out protectively in front of him. With a wave of his hands, a soft purple light overtook the doors, and they ceased their shaking. Nothing could break them, save for his and his mother's magic.
He nodded to himself and bolted for the stairs, taking them two at a time. He flew through the halls of the upper floor. Rounding a corner too tightly, he collided into a suit of armor nearly thrice his size. The pieces were sent sprawling loudly to the ground. He picked himself up and moved around the pieces, fearing they might come to life and attack him for his recklessness.
“Sorry,” he muttered before continuing to the tower. He froze at the doorway, hiding in the shadows until he was asked to approach.
His mother was standing at the window, holding herself up on the desk. The Alpha was cautiously behind her, shifting his weight. “There are many preparations to be done, Goyik. Many indeed. I have already put a few in place. I faked my death, creating this storm to cover my escape.”
“But, my lady, must it be so harsh a storm? And so endless? Nearly half of the village has been destroyed already. My pack is watching the town as you asked. The humans are begging for their lives!” Goyik said.
“They will survive, that I'm sure. But I must be certain no harm will come to myself.” There was a long pause. She dropped her head and stared at her hand, clenching them into fists. “I took his power from him, Goyik.”
The wolf stared at her in shock, but said nothing. “It was all that I could do for him, to take away what would only bring him harm,” the woman continued. “It was what I had to do. But it is not completely gone. Should he ever need it, he will find it. I only hope that he is able to control it.”
Theresa sighed. “They will come for me soon enough. I just need to keep him out of this long enough so that I can end those bastards on the Magicern once and for all! But for now I must run, and hide.”
A howl sounded off in the distance, and Goyik's ears pricked. His eyes glazed over momentarily, then he growled. “My lady, one of my pack has informed me that the town has grown desperate. They have turned on your husband, blaming the boy for the storm. They are on the run, headed for the Dire Woods as we speak. Shall I have my pack herd them elsewhere?”
Tears peaked in her eyes, but she shook them away. “No. There is no other place for them. The town will come around. We just need to keep them sheltered until then.” She stared out the window, a spark alight in her eyes. “I'll do it.”
“My lady, you haven't the strength to save them!” Goyik protested, nipping at the edge of her cloak.
“I have to.” She flexed her hands. Her eyes darted furiously around the world outside the window, but they finally came to rest. Cyllorian leaned into the room and watched out the window as best he could. Theresa closed her eyes and concentrated, and Cyllorian stared in awe as a house manifested on a hill not far from the edge of the woods. It was a small, two-story cabin, made of wood from trees that had been standing on the hill seconds before.
Theresa collapsed to the ground, trying to hold herself up on the edge of the table. Goyik was in front of her in an instant, supporting most of her weight on his back. “There. They will be safe now. It's far enough from the village for the humans to give up the chase.”
Cyllorian crept into the room. “Who are you talking about, Mommy? What's going on?”
Her body shuddered at his words. “Cyllorian. You will not understand this now, but you must listen to me. Please, I beg that you call me by my name. I…I can't stand to hear that word any longer!”
Cyllorian stepped away from her, tears stinging his eyes. She turned to look at him, and the stern expression fell from her face. She stumbled over to him, and fell to her knees so she was eye level. Gripping his shoulders tightly, she smiled at him.
“I had a child, Cyllorian. A baby, grown within me, and it has taken all strength from me. You have been my child for two years now, to the day even. But you are not my son. That body was not meant for you, but the soul inside was. I created it for you, made your essence from my own life. But the boy, down in the village with his father, is my son, Arion. I'm sorry. I do love you, Cyllorian, but I also love my son, and I must do whatever it takes to protect him, to protect you both. You will not understand all of this now, but in the future, you will learn.”
“I don't know what you're talking about. I'm your son, Mommy! Me! You have to stay with me! Mommy, please!” The boy clutched at the edges of Theresa's cloak.
She shook his shoulders, and his whining ceased, though his tears were flowing freely. “Please, Cyllorian. Please,” she whispered. Tears were flowing down her face as well, and sadness filled her eyes. She dropped her head as she spoke, “It has been a long year, and there is much that I have brought about. There is too much danger in the world, far too much for my children. I am the only one who can stop him now. It is the utmost priority. Above everything else.”
She stood up abruptly, still clinging to Cyllorian's shoulders. “Come here to the table with me. There is something I'd like to show you.” Her voice broke with sorrow, though she had forced herself to stop crying.
She led the boy to the table, a small music box sitting in the middle. He grabbed the edge of the table and pulled himself onto his toes to look at it better. The box was simple, but with an intricate lock made of gears spinning under a large metal plate. A familiar insignia of a lightning bolt was etched into the plate. Theresa waved her palm in front of the box, and it flew open. A clear crystal ball sat deep within the box, a small switch beside it.
Cyllorian looked over the contents carefully. “Go on,” she nudged. He glanced up at her, then reached his hand out and flicked the switch. The room filled with music, and Theresa began singing the lullaby he had heard countless times before.
“Come now, my child,
'Tis time to rest.
Your thoughts are so wild.
Come, mother knows best.
Just close your eyes,
Stop your mind in its race.
There's no need for cries,
For this is a safe place.
I'll wait here for you
To wake from your peace.
For my love is true
And shall never cease.”
Cyllorian had closed his eyes at the sound of the song, his head lolling to the side. When Theresa had stopped singing, he glanced up at her. There were tears in her eyes as she hummed the melody, though the box had stopped playing its music. Her fingers rested lightly on the crystal ball, shaking on the glass.
“I'm so very sorry, Cyllorian. You were not born, therefore, you are not human. You are an imp, a type of a demon, though a weak one. But don't let that define you. Things are going to change, and I wish I could tell you that they didn't have to. But it is what must be done, for the sake of everyone. Remember all that I've taught you. I love you, my child. I will return for you, though I know not when. I'm sorry.”
A deep blue smoke had been forming within the glass ball, coming from her fingertips. It grew until it was almost too big to fit into the ball, and Theresa pulled her hand away. She lightly grazed Cyllorian's shoulder, and there was a sharp pain. He looked to find a small burn in the shape of a star. It was light red and already beginning to heal, but it didn't matter.
The navy smoke reached out of the ball in wisps and tendrils, slithering toward him. They latched onto his shoulder, and pulled at the scar. He screamed with the pain, white blood running down his arm. He turned to Theresa for help, but she had spun away from him, a hand over her mouth. He whirled on the wolf, but he sat still as stone, watching Theresa dutifully.
Cyllorian continued to scream in pain as his body was ripped into pieces. Though the pain was immense, somehow, he still felt intact. He kicked and clawed at the tendrils that tore him apart, but it wasn't long before there was nothing left of him.
He felt himself, but there was also nothing to feel. His mind was there, and all of his senses, but he had no body. He had been reduced to nothing more than the pure essence of his being in the form of a small cloud of violet smoke, humming in the air. There was a stinging in his core, and he longed for something concrete to attach to, his attention drawn to the crystal ball.
It was empty now, but the navy smoke still lay stretched between him and the glass. It was pulling him toward it, though it didn't seem to have the power.
Theresa cupped her hands around his essence, and lifted the ball of smoke to her face. “It may be uncomfortable now, but this frees you to be yourself. You haven't found your own power yet, and it won't make sense to you for a long time, but you don't need a body. You can make one of your own, though now is not the time for that. I must lock you away now. Not just for Arion's safety, but for yours as well. You need to trust me, my child. I'm sorry.”
With that, she poured the smoke into the glass ball, and Cyllorian was sucked inside. With all the strength he had left, he rammed against the edge of his prison, again and again. He quickly lost his energy. He stared willfully at Theresa as she closed the box. There was a flash of her blue light, and then darkness engulfed him, a gaping hole of pain and anger eating him away from the inside.
I will wait for you as well, Mother, he thought bitterly. But it won't be a happy reunion. I promise you that.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.