Be sure to check out both books of the Sagas of Di’Ghon series. All links to J. Lawrence’s sites are linked to the photos, so all you have to do is click!
J. Lawrence has been going to Arth since childhood. Family members said the boy had a very healthy imagination that he would grow out of soon. Little J. Lawrence’s was excited about the new information, because if healthy things could be outgrown, then he would see an end to eating nasty vegetables. However, as he grew older he realized that the level of detail and the emotional entanglement he felt went far beyond that of a healthy imagination. Over a period of years, one glimpse at a time, an entire world filled with magic and monsters had taken shape in his head. Family members started looking at him funny when they thought he wasn’t paying attention.
The boy stopped telling people about his trips to Arth.
J. Lawrence grew up. He married his high school sweetheart, and fathered four children. He lives a very normal life, one that is filled with love and happiness. He became a highly specialized construction project manager in Buffalo, New York.
Yet, the visions never stopped.
Then, while surfing on the internet, he saw something that convinced him that Arth was not the invention of a boy who never grew up. Arth was real. With a burning desire to share his experiences with the world, he started writing the Sagas of Di’Ghon that day. If asked, he willingly confesses that he is not the author of the Sagas of Di’Ghon and likens his role in the creative process to that of a simple scribe. Arth itself is the real author. He just writes down what he’s seen.
Whatever the case, many readers have come to enjoy his mad ramblings, and often write that they just can’t stop reading, to which J. Lawrence replies with a boyish grin, “Story of my life.”
Now an excerpt from Inborn: Sagas of Di'Ghon Book One
The Salt Satchel
Keeping one eye on the girl, Keriim slowly took another step up the stairs. Under his armor plate, his heart raced as he caught sight of her running her fingers through her golden hair.
He licked his lips. It wasn’t the hair that did it for him. It was the hands.
Keriim always cut a fingertip off the girls he killed. He kept his little treasures in a leather satchel packed with curing salts. It never left his side. He wore it suspended by a leather cord under his crimson weave tunic. He grinned and patted his ribs, comforted by knowing the bumpy little satchel was nearby. There wasn’t anything he owned he loved more. Sometimes between his adventures, the mementos were the only things that kept him going. He knew every one of them by name.
The anxious little satchel lightly thumped his bare ribs as he ascended the stairs. He wondered if the others sensed a new girl coming soon.
He’d been watching her for weeks.
She giggled with her friends, all girls from the kitchen, as they excitedly pointed down into the crowd. No doubt one of them was eyeing up some boy for the festival.
The Festival of the Caller was the only time of the year the entire hold would be busy. Every dirty little villager was invited to dine in the great hall of Ontar Castle. It took two days to feed them all. There were games, contests, and plenty of drinking.
No one would miss one servant girl for a while. If he was lucky, maybe even the whole two days.
Keriim’s breath came in deep rhythmic pulls. Beneath his crimson weave and polished plate mail, his heart hammered in anticipation. He had to be careful now because this had to be done just right. Taking his time was crucial. How else was he supposed to remember everything just as it was?
The high main wall encircled the courtyard in a ring of great white stone. Long crimson banners hung down from it, undulating in the icy wind. Overhead, fluttering streamers of the same color swooped from bastion to bastion. Before long he was gawking at all the fancy decorations like a brainless villager, not really caring who saw his sincere delight.
The girl and a number of her friends were standing most of the way up one of the sets of stone stairs that ran from the courtyard floor to the top of the outer wall. They were in a perfect spot to hear Lisella Ontar’s speech.
Keriim ambled upward, one casual tread at a time.
Standing this close, he had to force himself to be calm. She faced away from him. Keriim let his gaze linger on her lustrous blonde curls.
“Elycia, don’t let him catch you looking for him. You’ll spoil everything.” One of the girls, a pudgy little red-headed busybody, grabbed her by the crook of her elbow and turned her away from the crowd. When she pivoted, face all flushed from the bitter cold, Keriim noticed his next girl had a bright red ice blossom fixed in her hair.
Keriim was a bit shocked that he hadn’t even noticed anyone courting her. He was so preoccupied with how important the little details would be to him later that he took his mind of what was right in front of him now. His face went hot with anger as jealous rage boiled up from his groin. How dare she wear an ice blossom for someone else? On their special day. That little bitch!
As the girls pointed excitedly at the main gate, it occurred to him that they weren’t planted on the stairs in order to get a good view of the Ontar, but the entrance to the courtyard, so as to see her suitor the moment he walked in. Keriim let his gaze rake across the crowd as they milled in through the massive stone entrance.
“We’ll watch for you, Elycia,” another one of them tittered emphatically.
With his eyes locked on the bright red ice blossom, Keriim let his anger warm him, like a river of molten lava coursing through his belly. He felt his lips stretch in a smile, as an idea born of pure rage bubbled to the top. He would carve her name in her finger before he took it. He usually took the tip after they were dead, but he would make an exception for her. It would have to be back to the second knuckle, at least. He had to think this through. He closed his eyes and tried to picture how the odd name ELYCIA would look after the finger cured in the salt satchel.
Thaniel was thinking about one thing. Elycia.
He wasn’t really paying attention to the route he took to the castle. As a messenger for the hold, he knew both the town and Ontar Hold so well that navigating quickly through either was accomplished more by second nature than any conscious thought.
The ways were little more than plank covered spaces snaking behind the buildings that made up the marketplace section of the town. The larger older structures were mainly constructed of dark brownstone, while the midsized of square brick, and the newer smaller ones were sided in overlapping pine boards. On the front side the boards were painted every shade imaginable. But since nobody actually traveled the ways the owners didn’t bother to coat the wood with much more than light pitch.
“Slow down, lover boy!” Jorel teased from much farther back than Thaniel recalled.
“You got it bad,” Jorel cackled as he caught up.
“You’re not helping.”
“I can’t.” He giggled. “There’s no cure for it.”
Jorel might be right. Maybe he did have girlhead.
What was he thinking running in the ways? People dumped all kinds of things back there. By the looks of it, the muckers hadn’t been through in a month. If he slipped and fell in this… Thaniel cringed as he envisioned Elycia’s friends asking what the smell was when he walked up to her. No. He couldn’t have that. Not today. Today he would ask her to be his Festival Kiss. Just the thought of it made his tongue dry up like a week-old biscuit.
He forced himself to focus on putting one careful foot in front of the other, keeping to the center of the narrow passageway the two of them strode down. Jorel sidled up to him, threatening to pass. Thaniel bumped him as he pushed forward a little faster, forcing Jorel to either fade back or walk in the half frozen muck that was piled up on either side.
Thaniel shrugged the heavy warm collar of his messenger’s cloak back up to his chin and blew into cupped fingers before jamming them back into his armpits. At least the buildings towering on either side of them shielded them from the brunt of the Anwarian Range weather.
He couldn’t blame the cold alone for the pain in his hands. The truth was that he nearly rubbed his fingers raw trying to brush his heavy leather cloak back to its original deep brown. It had taken most of the morning. Thaniel smoothed the front of his shirt, checking himself over again as he kept moving. With the cloak smartly fastened over one shoulder by a red cord he’d braided himself, his hair finger combed back as well as he could get it, and his boots cleaned and oiled, he hoped he looked good enough.
His first attempt to give Elycia a flower had been an embarrassing disaster that he wanted to forget. And he would too. Yet before the shame of it had even cooled, he found himself climbing that tower and picking another ice blossom. He ran with such abandon all the way to the kitchens where she worked that he knocked over Sid, sending him flying along with the crate of leather soles the cobbler carried. But when he saw her there, with her hands on her hips, her nosey friends all staring him down, all he could do was stand there looking stupid and ask for a piece of bread. So ended his second attempt. It still didn’t compete with the first… No. He was going to forget it.
So, last night, he did the next best thing. He stuck the little crimson blossom on her pillow where she was sure to find it.
“The kitchen girls were up all night baking redcake.” Jorel didn’t quit there. “She was probably too tired to notice the scraggly little thing.”
“What do you mean scraggly? It was the biggest one on the tower!”
Thaniel stumbled on a heaving plank he had stepped over a thousand times before. Frantically, he tried to get his feet back beneath him and would have landed face-first in a frozen pile of what might have once been rotten turnips if Jorel, with the quickest hands of anyone he knew, hadn’t caught him up by the cloak at the last instant.
“You are hopeless.” Jorel laughed, enjoying his friend’s anguish a bit too much for Thaniel’s taste as his feet found purchase on the slippery muck.
“Just shut up.”
“Girlhead.” Jorel giggled infectiously.