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the birth of chaos

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The Chaos of Souls Series started with a short story more than thirty years ago. Back then, I was in middle school and I had a dream; not some grand vision for the world, or my own personal future: rather it was an ordinary collection of images dredged up from my subconscious in the night. But it was cool, by any ten-year old's standards.


There were knights, angels, demons, swords, dragons and magic, all intertwined with stepping into another world. My nocturnal musings fascinated me, especially since everyone assured me they were random nonsense. I knew better, of course. So I climbed out of bed and stepped over my siblings - we had a large family in a small house, so my bedroom was just that, a room full of beds; I had the privilege of having the top bunk. It was my own little space with a shelf full of knick-knacks and books, but it did make getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night an acrobatic feat.


After stepping on a few limbs, and heads I think, I made my way downstairs to the dining room table where all the school books were kept. I never made it back to sleep, and my parents woke to find me scribbling away in a loose leaf binder. I was on page thirteen when they sent me off to school, with a manuscript titled Journey to the Darkside stuffed in my bag.


What I wrote was tolerable, as far as dreams go. Hey, I was ten. It made sense in parts, and none in others, as dreams tend to do. What bothered me was how I told the story. It wasn't right. It was nothing like the books I read under my desk in class; The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, The last of the Mohicans, The Lord of the Rings. So, I rewrote it, again and again. I tried to understand what was missing, so I rewrote it, over and over again. I continued reading everything I got my hands on, especially those books I was told were too old for me.


It wasn't long before I noticed the voices when I wasn't reading. Not the scary kind that whisper sweet destruction and leave you medicated. These were the other kind, the ones who have a story to tell with their own unique inflections. They slipped into my normal narrative feed while I went through the day. Staring out the window of a New York City bus, I transitioned from my normal self-depreciating dialogue into some madman's self-aggrandizing tale of murder.


Like any good citizen overhearing a bloody confession, I wrote it down like the juicy bit of gossip it was. I didn't pay attention to the process. I didn't notice the empty dust jackets scattered about my room, or the paper cuts and calluses on my fingers. I didn't have a problem. I could stop at any time. Before I knew it, the voices filled notebooks, and I found myself seeking them out. There were short stories, poems, snippets, and yes, I blush to confess, vignettes when that's all I could get.


Years later, at some point in college, I came to a place where I had to admit the awful truth I had been running from. I was addicted. Hi, my name is R.M. Garino, and I am a recovering writer. I keep falling off the wagon.


I kept coming back to the original dream, though. It never left me, but it expanded. The short story became a novella, and grew into a novel. Through the years it evolved with me, but it was never right, never the book I always wanted to read. Something was missing.


Then, I met my wife, Dorothy. At first, she did not like my writing. Not that she disliked what I wrote, but that I spent too much time with it, and not enough with her. One day while we were dating, I was stuck with a plot point and told her part of the story. She fixed it in about thirty seconds. Later, after we were married, I described the setting I had finished writing. Pink Floyd's "Sorrow" played in the background, and the intro to the song carried her along the destroyed lands, and she saw it all.


That was it. That was all it took. She was hooked. The gateway was opened, and she stepped across into the world my ten-year old self discovered. She was my missing part. Since then, she has helped me craft it, fixing the plot holes and adding the voices that spoke in her head. Journey to the Darkside became The Chaos of Souls Series. The angels the Lethen'al, the demons became the Lo'ademn, and the knights became the Areth'kon Blades.


The first part of the story is The Gates of Golorath. Now, I'm not going to say I'm possessive and reluctant to let things go, but all it took was a gripping brush with death to get me to share it with others. I hope you enjoy it.


And so, Gather the Blades!

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