The Dark Ring

One of the many subplots in the first Phantammeron novel involves a dark ring. The use of relics in fantasy should never be the main focus of story, but instead offer the reader an enticing subplot to a much grander theme. And so, I will explain how one small relic in my story is used to enhance the novel.

The Dark Ring

In the Phantammeron Book One a black ring appears from a magic pool when the Limitless Void casts his soul-cleaving sword, Vatavandr, into its waters. The ring later is found by Agapor after he finds out it was the source of the bond between his parents.

Later the ring holds the spirit of the Limitless Void in its dark crystal. Here is the Void’s dialogue and description of the ring to Agapor (from the novel):

“I have suffered horribly, my child, in the cruel confines of this ring. For within its crystal lies the collected evil of many worlds long past. That from which the ring has eternally fed—the angst and anger of perverted and poisonous love—is all that remains inside. For within it lives only corruption, and a deep and vengeful hatred for this world. My spirit has been wracked with suffering from its great malice bent against me. For I have no love or hate left in my heart to offer it.”

This was one of the many themes I enjoyed exploring in the novel, which remains a mystery even at the end. At the end of the story, you will remember the witch Anissa demands the ring in payment from the Shadow. But after he perishes, she finds the dark ring in his ashes on the Hill of Abrea at the very end of the novel. Nothing more is said.

Along with the dark ring concept are the Black Roses called the Murgala. Obviously, there is some connection between all these dark objects. Are these all evil relics? No. Darkness doesn’t always mean evil in my novels. And that concept comes from the ancient European/Celtic idea that dark and light are polar opposites that rotate around each other, like the Summer and Winter Solstices. The dead in Celtic religion were said to inhabit a dark underworld and were simply the land of our ancestors, the Land of Faerie, where a dark but living world thrived, the opposite to this one. The underworld and its eternal darkness was the source of power for the Druids who gained such powers from their dead ancestors.

But the true meaning of the dark ring in the Phantammeron is suggested. It appears and glows in the presence of “fallen love”, not hate which means it’s not purely evil. Though I tell the reader it is hateful or hate-filled as regards “this world” that doesn’t equate to evil for evil’s sake. It simply thrives on “broken love”, on deceit, on lost love, on cheating, on deception, on infidelity, on temptation, on dead love.

It’s one of many “darker” themes I’m intentionally exploring….the idea of an ‘Anti-Marriage’ Ring, a ring that thrives on broken bonds between a man and a woman, and the failures of marriage in our Modern World and the idea that older institutions fail today because money or selfishness now drives relationships, infidelity is wide spread, children are placed below our priorities, and the thirst for decadent fulfillment subsumes the truer ideals of Love in a Modern Society that once upheld its higher ideals above all others. This also goes back to the idea that so many American families have been broken by drugs, divorce, greed, and violence the past 50 years. There is some social commentary in the idea of this dark ring in my books.

But I am not a moralist, nor do I write allegories. No, the Dark Ring is something more than merely cultural observation.

The Dark Ring is tied to some mysterious purpose in the novel that relates to the larger theme of the Sacred Waters and the mysterious waters of the Pool of Eternity created in the Garden of Eden called Abrea in the book; the place where pure and innocent Love that is true can still exist in the darker world. But the dark ring was pulled from a dark pool Ana found at the end of the book deep in a pit. And we know this pool is the dark feminine opposite of the brighter Sacred Pool in the Gardens of Abrea, just as the darker presence of Anissa is the opposite of Ana’ light.

My characters often move, not purely by evil and good intent, but by mysterious purposes even they don’t full control or understand. Notice the ring came forth from a dark pool in the second chapter of the Phantammeron. Water you will remember from my book – and from my Indo-European ancestors – is associated with the Female Archetype and the Earth Mother. And so the dark ring connects to a woman and some dark marriage vow or broken vow associated with some ‘feminine principal’. For “Feminine Opposites”, light and dark, abound in the novel for a reason and will appear again in Book Two.

Being a ring born of some hatred for love means there also must be a fallen romance involved, and a love interest lost, a broken heart somewhere, and a male figure, of course, associated with the ring in its past. There must be a reason for the dark ring’s vengeance in the story and its appearance, even destruction, of so many relationships. And there surely must be a Ring of Love, a brighter ring, its opposite that sustains truer relationships?

That is the mystery I will leave you with, some of which may be discovered in book two. But always know that rings and swords and relics do not drive the main plot. They are just subplots to a much larger theme. And the larger theme of my novels have a much gentler ideal behind them; of True Love’s grandness in the course of human bonds, of Truth, of our Higher Selves when we serve others, of humility, of human frailty but strength through courage all driven toward’s life’s hopeful outcome if we just believe.

And so, the Dark Ring itself is but a tool and not the source of my novel’s truest meaning. Why so much mystery and plotting? As I have mentioned before, my novel is not just a giant fairy tale, but also Mythopoeia, using myths and archetypes associated with meaning that drive the plots.

— the Author

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