Beyond the characters, and the mechanical devices I dreamed up for my Steampunk/Fantasy novels, there is something else. There are ancient swords that seem to carry a spiritual force within them—magic swords, if you will. As the story progresses further through “Journey To The Black City” into my new “After Earth” series, Lyria has several conversations with her sword—a sword forged across the sea thousands of years ago. Using meditative techniques, she questions her sword, and, at one point it tells her, “In the blackness of battle, I am the rising sun. I bring light, or I am defiled. Dishonor me and you will die on my steel.” Simply put, it is not a sword you would want to use for any nefarious purpose—which another character learns, to her detriment. Lyria, and her betrothed Kel, a shaman in training are from the free tribes—they accept the spirituality in their lives. And Kel, of course, is already trained in the art of shamanic travel, which we will deal with a little bit next time.
Another device I’ve used in my “After: Earth” series is the idea of the tribal shaman. Though Kel is still a ‘shaman in training,’ he can journey and can guide others seeking contact with their totem spirit-animals. I have personally practiced this type of journeying, and I have my own drum, which I assembled and painted. Because I have walked along this path, the journeys my characters take are largely (though not all) only slight modifications of my own experiences. The way into the altered state, what might be seen and experienced, and the way back, are as real as I can make them. I sincerely hope they don’t disappoint.