I like Chapter 9. It really gives the reader insight into what the politics are of the character’s world and how the tribes relate to each other and the depth of the challenge that Pasha must overcome.
Pasha crashed into the unforgiving stone floor as the guards
threw him out of the throne room. His first attempt to resist was
met by a strong blow to his throat. The impact was too much
and caused Pasha to fall back and curl up while they kicked his
stomach. A blow to his head robbed him of all strength and left
him open for more abuse.
Looking up at the guards through his bloodied eyes, he
expected more. Instead, two of the men grabbed him by each
arm and began dragging him down the opposite end of the
corridor from where he had entered. Already his arms felt like
snapping twigs and his knees like soft meat being cut into many
pieces. The guard who held his right arm continued to crack at
his head with a thick piece of dried cowhide.
It seemed clear they were tired of dragging him. With that
in mind, Pasha resigned himself to an uncooperative posture.
Though he was too weak to fight, he would not allow them to
take him to his death easily. Pasha began to look around the long
corridor. At the end he could see three more men in different
robes, all armed. Pasha could not accept that they were his
execution party. Hanasa had to be more cautious than to simply
murder a messenger of the Sashraman king, he thought to
Pasha flew into the air and then felt more of his head tear
open as it was ripped by the stone beneath him. He knew he
was at the end of the corridor, but how he would meet his last
moments, he could not decide.
Instinctively he curled up into a tight ball as they flayed him
with the ends of their spears. Not one of the men held back as
they tore Pasha’s skin apart. One pegged his head with the dull
spear end, forcing Pasha to open up his body to them once more.
The last blow to his head was so intense Pasha nearly lost
consciousness. He knew as the blows kept coming that they were
about to kill him. His vision began to fail him along with his
other senses. One more blow came, and all was black. Pasha’s
body moved no more.
“Is he dead?” asked one of the guards.
“We haven’t gone far enough to kill him. These Sashramans
tend to bleed easily. Throw him out!”
Quickly they opened the door behind them and tossed Pasha
into the room’s embracing darkness.
The place bore a foul stench that, like the darkness, seemed
to cling to every part of the room. Inside, the Sashraman lay with
others like him. Beside him were piles of the troublemakers, the
shameless, and fearless whose quick tongues, failing virtue, and
offensive nature had resulted in their numerous broken bodies,
those whose names had forever been erased by the shroud of
Still, they had been left with constant company. Each day,
their little rodent friends came to call upon them. Most came
from the damp, open walls, invisible to all with living eyes.
Happily, they arrived like friends invited to a celebration, ready
to join in the festivities, ready to feed upon the abundance of
When they moved to the newly arrived Sashraman, they
huddled in delight. Moving carefully, they drank in his warm
blood and body’s juices. However, as their teeth sank into his
sensitive parts, they awakened the nearly faded life within him,
causing them to attack more ferociously. He was a good feast, and
they would not let him go so easily. But eventually they broke off
and fled as a stranger approached and drew them off with flame
in his hand, something they had learned long ago to fear.
Pasha’s eyes opened with blood inside of them and blurred
vision. Eventually his eyes fell upon a red light in front of him.
Two servants lifted Pasha and took him to the wall near the door.
They propped him up against the wall and began to clean his
wounds with strange potions with offensive odors.
The man of Sashra looked down in quiet terror. His black
body was covered in purple bruises, welts, and long gashes. All of
the fingers on his right hand had been broken, and his entire left
side was riddled with the punctures of many small teeth that had
cut away much skin.
Pasha did his best not to move any part of his body. Despite
his efforts, his head was like a battered boat in the middle of a
tempest at sea. His eyes eventually began to focus and looked out
in disgust at the place where he had been left to die.
It was like an enormous stone box that had been filled with
bodies left to rot. The liquid and dampness that he felt upon his
hands was the blood and fluids of the men who had expired long
ago. Though he lowered his eyes, he could not block the halfeaten
corpses, spiked heads, and the remains of disemboweled
men from his mind.
“What is this barbarity?”
The servants ignored his words, continuing their work.
The words had been painful to release, for he still felt the
many blows the guards had inflicted upon his throat.
“It is what happens in a world where we must be as fierce as
lions in order to survive.”
Pasha quickly recognized the voice of King Hanasa. He
looked to his right as the man came toward him.
“I should have known to expect this from the Halor. Your
people hunger for blood. It makes sense that a place like this is
where you keep your stores.”
“I see my men broke your body but left your tongue. You
should be grateful to them for that.”
“Yes, I believe so. Most boys possess the strength to draw a
sword from its sheath, but I suppose your men were just too worn
The king came closer and pulled Pasha’s face directly toward
him. “Are you a sorcerer of some kind?”
Pasha did not answer.
“Who was the woman in black? The warrior in silver armor
whom none could see?”
“They are obviously signs of a mind that has succumbed to
the madness in Halor blood.”
Hanasa suddenly released his dagger and dug the blade’s dull
end into Pasha’s tender throat.
“I saw the warrior in armor cause all of my men to be unable
to draw their swords against you. It is obvious that he protects
“If this supposed . . .” Pasha coughed hard, sprinkling the
ground with blood. “If this supposed warrior was protecting me,
more than likely I would not look like this right now,” Pasha said
through heavy, gasping breaths.
“You just want me to kill you, is that it?” Hanasa flipped
the blade and pointed the sharp end toward Pasha’s exposed,
throbbing throat. “I see men like you all the time, warriors who
do not fear offending even a king. But let me tell you a little
secret. In the end, we are all afraid. You will tell me everything of
this sorcery and how to combat it. The woman and the warrior,
tell me who they are.”
“I think you already know, King Hanasa of the Halor. They
are a sign, a sign that you need to rethink your response to the
message I gave you. Before I left, my malik told me it was written
that no evil would touch me while I was in your house.”
“So it is Juktan who has cursed me.”
“The only curse is that of ignorance and violence, which you
have shielded yourself with ever since my arrival.”
“It is not as simple as you might believe, Sashraman. Do you
know what you would represent if I acknowledged you and your
“I am not the emperor, and I shall never wear his crown.”
“Many would not see it that way! The prophecy has plagued
the minds of our priests ever since the emperor’s death and the
death of his family. Some say that since the emperor’s family was
dead, the warrior would come from among one of us. Others say
the oracle’s prophecy is not to be trusted. But now you are here.
After what I have seen today, I cannot deny that a great power
resides around you. Your very presence is an affront to all of the
Halor who died to free us from the empire!”
“There is something else. There must be. Something about
this woman and this warrior gives you a greater reason to fear
them. If not, I would not be alive right now.”
“The woman in black has come to me every fourth night past
twilight. She would tell me to prepare for the path I must follow.
Eventually, she told me of you. I did not believe her at first, but
soon reports began to come in, and everything was falling into
place as she said. The woman told me that if I took my dagger,”
Pasha’s throat throbbed once more, and he began to sweat as
the cold blade pressed down into his throat, “and put it to your
throat like this and ended this before it has a chance to begin . . .
She said if I did this, none of my children or my wives would
survive the night.”
“You must be asking yourself, Is this man worth it?”
“You do not scare me! My family is under triple guard, and
you are under my hand!”
“You do seem in control. But as a man who has seen
equally strange things in his own lifetime, I caution you. Never
underestimate what you do not fully understand. I am ready.”
The king began to respect the selfless nature of the man
whose life lay between his hand and dagger. A heavy silence filled
the room as Hanasa considered what he was about to do.
Pasha took deep breaths, knowing it was over.
King Hanasa stood and went toward the door, stopping to
speak to one of his servants.
“Wash his body and tend to him. Give him a bed where my
physicians can see him.”
Dismissing their bows of obedience, Hanasa left Pasha once
again in the hungering darkness.
At first, his healing was slow. For many days, he had been unable
to sit up, let alone walk. Pasha slept for days and was awoken
solely by the physician who came to change his bandages and
tend to his wounds.
The man who seemed to be charged with his care was
an older Halor man called Yaradai. Like most Halor, he was
very black, and his face did not hold back his disgust towards
Sashramans or Pasha in general. Every day he came, he would
rub some sort of salve or potion along Pasha’s opened flesh.
Though Pasha assumed it was something to help close the gashes,
every night his flesh would open and bleed, making him weaker
the next day. It was as if the old man was trying to keep him
Pasha began to doubt that, however, when he awoke one day
with enough strength to sit up. Sliding back, he laid his back
against the wall. Stretching out his arms and pushing hard onto
the stone beneath him, he pushed himself up.
In spite of reaching his feet for the first time, his legs failed
him, and he crashed to the ground. Pasha rolled onto his back,
content to stay there as he began to sweat profusely, and his
breathing became ragged.
Nevertheless, all that his mind dwelt on was his mission and
whether or not it would be successful. Not knowing disturbed
Again he cursed his weakness, beating the ground beside
him, scraping the skin on his hand. Pasha’s distraught mind did
not allow him to hear the sound of another entering the room.
“You must think me a fool if you think I am going to clean
Pasha looked up to see Yaradai coming slowly toward him,
his look of disgust and irritation unchanged.
“Scum, Sashraman, you bleed like a gutted pig!”
He bent his knees deeply to wrap his arms around Pasha and
lift him to his feet.
“I don’t know what you’re doing on the ground. You can walk
now. I have more important things to do than look after you.”
Stepping back, he let Pasha balance himself, holding out an
arm for support.
“Really, I don’t see what the king wants with you anyway.
When I was young, we killed Sashramans on sight! Now I am
expected to bandage and heal them. There’s something good to
be said about the old days.”
“I never asked for your help, old man!”
“You had best be grateful for it, bushim. One more session
with Naylok and Kishei, and I would be burning your wretched
corpse instead of wasting my skills on you.”
Pasha’s head was swimming. His insides burned and felt
constricted. He could not stand to be on his feet much longer.
The old man thought differently as he pushed Pasha forward.
Immediately Pasha fell onto his knees.
“Walk, bushim! Walk!”
“I am wasting no more time on you. Now walk!”
He bent forward to pull Pasha up.
“Leave me be, old man!” said Pasha, trying to push away his
“I’ll leave you be when I decide to.”
“I said leave me be!” Pasha pushed harder, trying to direct
a quick blow to the man’s face, but that only caused him more
pain. Yaradai caught his slowly moving fist and threw it back to
the ground. He kicked Pasha, though not as hard as the ones who
had beaten Pasha before. Nevertheless, the all too familiar pain
shot through Pasha’s insides like a flaming arrow.
“Daiyu damn you, you worthless bushim! You either walk or
I will send you back to Naylok.”
“You must be a fool if you think that you scare me. Halor
Yaradai responded quickly with a thick strap of dried goat
hide that he struck Pasha’s head with. He continued by striking
Pasha’s hands repeatedly.
“Get up or you will never use those hands again!”
Pasha could feel the embedded pieces of metal and glass
tearing away the skin. Already his hands were covered in blood;
his right hand’s fingers were not completely healed. Yaradai
seemed to remember this; he paused in order to draw a thin
stick from his robes. Using the stick, he continued to beat Pasha’s
hands without mercy. Pasha began to cough, his throbbing body
continued to weaken, and the pain continued.
With one final effort, Pasha pressed his palms to the stone
and pushed up as hard as he could. Yaradai did not stop until he
finally came to his knees and raised himself up.
“Good, bushim. Now walk!”
Dreading even more pain, Pasha moved his right leg forward,
and his left soon followed. In spite of his dizziness and difficulty
breathing, he began to follow Yaradai who was leading him to the
open, oval shaped doorway. Drawing back the overhanging cloth,
Yaradai stepped out from the room into the long corridor.
Pasha paused. He was in a completely different part of the
palace. The stone around him was white but not finely cut as that
in the hall that led to the king’s chambers. Cut into the opposite
wall was a small circular chamber that held what appeared to be
small animals, sealed inside by thick reinforced cedar bars.
Moving closer, Pasha saw they were in fact men curled into
tight balls, their knees coming to their mouths for lack of space.
All were like filthy balls of dark flesh. Many cried out to Yaradai
for mercy, and others for food. Pasha noted one who tore at the
bars so furiously with his few teeth that his mouth was nothing
but blood. The moans and groans echoed through the open hall
like a death cry Pasha had heard many times in battle.
“Move!” Yaradai prodded him with the stick.
“What is this place!” Pasha whispered more to himself.
Yaradai ignored him, stepping sideways to avoid a mound of
“Animals! Daiyu curse all of you!” His thick spittle sprayed
the different cells, an obvious sign of his contempt for them.
Being able to focus more, Pasha could see that the corridor
led to the outside. Yaradai was leading him to what appeared to
be an open garden where a figure stood waiting.
Coming into the light for the first time in weeks
overwhelmed Pasha; he lost all balance and fell forward. Yaradai
came down hard with his stick, causing Pasha to cry out, but he
could not stand again.
“That will do, Yaradai,” King Hanasa spoke softly. “Let him
“Yes, my lord.”
“That will be all.”
Once Yaradai had left, Hanasa wrapped arms around Pasha’s
waist and brought him to several cushions that sat by a well.
“I hope you can see why this idea of an alliance is
impractical,” said the king as he wrapped Pasha in a bright new
robe. “Little has changed since the war. Especially for men like
“Where I come from, a man has too much respect to lock
another away in tiny cracks in a wall!”
“What do you mean? Oh, you have seen my enemies. Do you
not do the same to your enemies in Sashra? Does your king not
have a place like this?”
“In Sashra, we kill our enemies and let their souls rest in
peace, not beat them from men into quivering children like you
“You are quite right, my friend; we are quite different.
Nevertheless, you still believe that our peoples have a future
together. How can you expect our people to rise from the war
and become the people of the south? The Hebari spirit the
stories speak of is dead. You obviously must expect a miracle or
“If it is our destiny.”
“Destiny! Hah! Tell me, after what you have been through,
can you really believe that! Can you believe that more than fifty
years can be erased, and we can go on and become friends?”
“I do not pretend to know, King Hanasa, but my path has led
“Well I do not, Sashraman. The prophecy says that the evil
one comes upon us again with a massive army to destroy the
faith of the people. There is only one person who has been called
that in our history. You know of whom I speak.”
“Janaha the witch king.”
“Who lived nearly one thousand years ago! Are you telling
me that we have to come to your aid to help defeat someone who
has been dust for centuries!”
“His body was never found after the Battle of the Mahara
“So what, you believe that a one-thousand-year-old man is
leading the men of the north?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you believe any of this, Sashraman?”
“I haven’t the luxury of beliefs anymore, not since . . .”
“Not since what?”
“It does not concern you!” Pasha turned his head as small
tears came to his face. For so long he had tried to not think on his
wife or son, but he was weak, too weak to fight.
“I used to believe that I was always in the right. That Daiyu
smiled down upon me and my work and upon my family. Ever
since you came though, all is different. You must think me a
heartless man, Sashraman. Like you, I have many defenses.”
“We are nothing alike.”
“Says the man who continues to say that we are all alike, we
are one people. I know now that there is a better way, better than
all of this. I pray that I can find it with you, Sashraman, for our
“Then you will acknowledge my malik’s message.”
“I will do all that I can so as not to upset the wrath of that
woman in black and her silver armored warrior. Whether the
other tribes wish to follow or not, I will send warriors to Sashra,
but rest assured of one thing, Sashraman. I do not trust you, nor
do I trust your king, but I hope that if we go to war together, a
bridge of trust can be built.”
“Perhaps it will be built between our people, but never
between you and me.”
“I understand. I will have the servants bring you some food.”
Pasha fell onto his back. Though exhausted with pain, he
gazed upon the sunlit sky, content that no more pain would come
that day to his body.
Hanasa walked around him, looking down upon his body.
“Daiyu be merciful! My men sure do their work well.”
“I shall pray for your recovery. Yaradai shall tend to you no
more. You can stay here awhile if you wish.”
Pasha ignored the king, who left him alone upon the sweet
grass beneath the warmth of the sun.
Warrior of the Way- Book
What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?
I hope people will be encouraged to continue living their lives honorably, doing what is best no matter how hard and unfilling it may seem. I hope people will come away with a more nuanced perspective about spirituality or the lack thereof and it what it means in one’s life.
Who or what is the inspiration for the book?
The inspiration for the title of my book and certain parts of the story come from sermons my dad gave in church. In one sermon he spoke of how the ancient Christians called themselves people of the way and referred to their faith as ‘the way’. The sermon touched on the trouble they had living out their daily lives while trying to stay true to their new faith. I had always wanted to write a fantasy book with lots of mysticism and spirituality. I came upon Pasha Nuvahli who is in many ways a tortured anti-Messianic figure who must fulfill the Messianic role despite his strong desire not to. I used Pasha to examine the good and bad of religion and blind faith and how sometimes there are some wounds that faith cannot very quickly or at all. I also like stories with magic in them so I incorporated magical elements into the story as well. Fantasy stories and historical fiction have always been my favorites especially stories with sword play. I am a big fan of Conn Iggulden and his writing and the advice on writing that he gave me inspired me to tell a story of my own. The idea of creating something always appealed to me and that idea inspired me to take a chance and write a book.
Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?
My father is my biggest mentor in regards to faith and spiritual issues. As for writing my brother Andrew was biggest mentor. He really helped me understand what I needed to do to write a good story that people would read. He discussed the mechanics of writing a novel and he really made me consider the perspective and needs of the readers. I believe I have improved my writing alot because of Andrew’s input.
I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?
I agree with that statement that one has to be a good reader in order to be a good writer. My writing didn’t improve until I started doing what Andrew suggested, reading. When I first started writing I thought I didn’t need to read anything. I thought my book was the only important one on the planet. The reality is I needed to read in order to understand how books arranged and what kind of writing styles are out there. By reading more I was forced to think of what I as a reader wanted from the author and whether I was getting it. I agree reading is important when it comes to writing a book. The major books I read while writing my story were Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Imaro, Harry Potter, and the Caesar and Genghis books by Conn Iggulden. My favorite genre is fantasy/science fiction. I’m not sure what category Conn Iggulden’s historical fiction falls into but he’s been my favorite author for years. I read his books alot while I was writing my own. J.K. Rowling is my other favorite author but Conn Iggulden comes first.