Who are we, really?

Eryinath-5, The Dancer Nebula

Book Cover
Eryinath-5 is a tale of war and duty, but it is also a tale of self-knowledge and courage in the face of impossible odds.

Readers of Tier Zero, Vol I of the Knolan Cycle know that Marty Tellus aka Hāthar has all the makings of a self-aware, thoughtful human. The whole reason Lysia, his Knolan mentor has been able to find him at all is his powerful mind. And on closer inspection, she discovers someone of unmeasured—and perhaps unlimited—potential.

A potential both Lysia, the Seeker who discovers Marty and Lynyth, the Oracle of Knola feel is worth developing. Marty’s potential—and his safety from the Knolans’ enemies the Valdrōsians—is why the Oracle decides to bring him to Knola for the best mentoring they can offer. On the way to Knola, Kholôtha, the Oracle’s Restara discovers he might also have the makings of a warrior. Subsequent training validates that hunch, which is how he has come to be a Captain in the Knolan Shock Forces.

But as anyone who has gone in harm’s way knows, going where few dare to go exposes ourselves to potentially soul-withering and redefining consequences. In Eryinath-5, The Dancer Nebula, Hāthar-Tahk is captured by the Valdrōsians. Mortally wounded, they snatch him from the jaws of death, for purposes of their own—confronting him with a new and unexpected peril. His own imperfections.

Dark of the Soul

Not unlike its prequel, Tier Zero, Eryinath-5, The Dancer Nebula chronicles the violent collision of cultures and philosophies, while celebrating a sense of duty and courage. In common with the first book in the series, there are side trips into deep eroticism. At the same time, it is equally a story of discovery and self-knowledge. When we reconnect with Hāthar in Eryinath-5, he thinks he knows who he is. In common with most of us, he’s half-right.

His experiences to this point have shaped his value system and he’s acutely aware of those values. Sa’ang Kurinth, or duty and kinship, as the Knolans see it, is more than a word or even a concept. It is a core principle and call to action that he instinctively embraces.

Hāthar is inclined to act on it in the blink of an eye, only to have his conscious thought catch up in the actions he takes as a result of those instincts. But do not all of us have things going on at a deeper level—at a level we’re not aware of, never mind have the perceptiveness to admit to ourselves?

Enter Rexsylia

What remains for all of us is someone who can make us aware of not only our strengths but our potential weaknesses. And buried even deeper, the inner reserves of strength we might never have discovered if not for someone else. In Hāthar’s case, that someone is Rexsylia, a young high-born Valdrōsian woman who will take Hāthar to the edge and beyond.

She claims him for her own while he’s still convalescing, taking him to Eryinath-5, a slave world at the fringes of the Valdrōsian empire. Vowing to himself not to give her or the Valdrōsians anything that will give them advantage over his adoptive Knolan home world, Hāthar finds himself tested in unexpected ways.

At some level, he knows that the Oracle, the Guardian and his mate, Arra, will search for him and (if they can find him) free him. But Valdrōsian women have some attributes none of Hāthar’s mentoring has prepared him for. Even if his adoptive Knolan family finds him, will they be in time?

D.B. Sayers is the author of six titles, with two more works in progress on the way. You join Dirk’s Tribe by subscribing to Smoke Signals, his newsletter in the upper right of this page to be among the to know when he publishes new work.

Lessons My Horses Taught Me

Horse, Rider and caption, "Things My Horse Taught Me..."
Who and what we love defines who we are without us even being aware of it.

People who know me well know that I have always had an enduring “thing” for horses. They’re inherently beautiful in motion, even the ones with objectively imperfect hocks, with “unnaturally” high withers or with thin, scraggly manes that need to be roached, rather than grown out. I love feeding and grooming horses, picking out their hooves and yes, even cleaning their stalls. For years, horses, along with surfing were as close to obsessions as I get.

I haven’t always had horses & I don’t right now. I literally can’t afford them, never mind not having a place to keep them, here in Orange County, California. But the days when the beginning and ending of every day revolved around my horses are still vivid in my memory. There is something inherently satisfying about entering the barn first thing in the morning, just as the sun is rising to find your horse(s) heads craned out of their stall, bobbing as your approach.

I know what you’re thinking. Horses are nothing if not masters of associative learning. They’d learned to associate my approach in the early morning with a flake of hay and a generous helping of Omolene 200. They were just hungry, which is why Ran and Breeze always bobbed their heads at me when I entered the barn.

Admittedly, it’s probably just wishful thinking, but it always felt to me like it went beyond that. Breeze, my Appaloosa mare, for example, would invariably attempt to steal my hat when I entered her stall. Maybe she was just bored and found the game a distraction. Except she never did that with anyone else when my absence required me to find someone to fill in for me. I know because I asked. And when I let trusted friends ride her, she’d never crane her neck around to nibble gently on their jean rivets, as they picked out her hooves. She did that with me, regularly.

And maybe it was just anticipation of sharing a beer with me (Ran-Man LOVED beer) or an apple that would send him into a cavorting frenzy when I’d call his name while he was turned out. He’d amble up to the fence—treat or no treat—to renew the bond we shared. However either of them felt about me in their equine brains, I loved them both with that special affection that often grows up between horses and humans.

But as gratifying as these little interactions were—& whatever I or anyone else thought they meant—my biggest takeaways from being around horses was how much their communication is non-verbal. Over time, that recognition has spilled over into my interactions with humans.

To this day, I’m of the belief that one of the most important reasons to have and care for horses is to help teach us sensitivity—how we’re being received and to how we might be coming across to others. I have not and never will completely master either reading or controlling non-verbal communication. But I am certain that Ran, Breeze, and the other horses I worked with made me just a little kinder, more sensitive and a little better than I would otherwise have been.

Looking back on those days, I’ve come to believe that kindness, love and giving is perhaps best taught to us by our interactions with critters (or people) who so different from ourselves, that we can only relate to them meaningfully with conscious, continuous effort of heart. Perhaps it is that very effort that brings out the best of who we are, enabling us to see ourselves more clearly in others.

As 2022 winds down, I find myself thinking about those collective “others” who make up my immediate community—they who are part of my life and (more inclusively) that glorious, larger community that all life calls home.

Is it a function in part of my growing awareness of my own mortality? Of how much or little time I may have left to get me and my relationships right, whatever that means? Probably. There’s way more runway behind me now, than lies ahead.

I don’t know what life, however much I have left has in store for me. But acknowledging my own fallibility, I nevertheless hope to be true to my quiet pledge to myself for the coming year. As 2022 winds to a close, I pledge in 2023 to be kinder, within the limits of human frailty. Kinder with my eyes. Kinder with my words—even in the expression of sometimes painful truth. And my thoughts. Mostly especially in my thoughts. Namasté.

DB Sayers is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, former corporate trainer and two-time district manager turned full-time author with six books in print and two more on the way.