I love to hear Jackson Crawford speak about such subjects (the Nordic peoples, the Vikings, the sagas, the Eddas, the Norse gods, etc.). He is a superb lecturer, and one of my very favorite modern professors.
ALTERNAEUS, THE IMPERFECT BUT IDEAL CHRISTIAN WIZARD
Yesterday I relaxed yet still worked upon my Alternaeus or “Wizard novels.”
(Though it seemed more sport and word-play to me than work. Gladly, I can say that about most of my Work.)
Anyway I sketched out dozens of possible stories about Alterneaus the Wizard, who has become one of my favorite characters. Now many of my characters are actually a proxy-me in fictional form. For instance Marsippius Nicea is the warrior in me, Steinthal is me as a detective and infiltrator, Vlachus represents the monk and priest in me, Thrasher the frontiersman and woodsman and Vadder/explorer in me, Tristas the futurist, scientist and God-Technologist in me, and Alternaeus has come to represent the Christian Wizard in me. He is me as a fictional character. Or more accurately as a fictional example of a Christian Wizard. For I, like everyone else alive, am far more than just one thing. But as far as the Christian Wizard goes he is my paragon or ideal example of one written in fictional form.
But also he has become my fictional exemplar of what an ideal Christian Wizard/Genius should be. Therefore his stories are not just stories but provide a sort of Guidebook in Fiction for how a Christian Wizard should behave and conduct himself in various difficult situations. And in life generally speaking.
Although I am writing a non-fiction set of books about the Christian Wizard/Genius/Theurgist the stories I am writing about Alternaeus sort of flesh out how a Christian Wizard should behave in day to day situations, even though the stories take place in an mostly historical Medieval milieu. Yet the techniques and morality Alternaeus expresses should be applicable to any time period. And to most any situation. That is indeed my exact intent in writing these stories. In addition to being entertaining tales in their own right they will also compliment my non-fiction books on the same general subject matter.
The stories will consist of short situational work tales and moral fables about Alternaeus (as a Christian Wizard/Genius) sort of like most of the cases of Sherlock Holmes or the adventures of Conan. They will be arranged into book form but can easily stand alone as well. They will not be dependent upon each other but will build upon each other.
In any case I spent some time this afternoon and evening briefly sketching out the major stories involving Alternaeus and the lessons he will teach through his stories. Some of these stories will be short, no more than a couple of pages, others quite long depending on the subject matter and what the story describes.
Also I have decided that each book of stories in the novel set, and perhaps even each story, will be introduced with a short section of verse from a long poem about Alternaeus, which, when taken altogether will be a sort of Summary in Verse (Summa Versa, or Summa Esse) of all of Alternaeus’ adventures and will contain, encoded in the verse, various lessons for the Christian Wizard.
This will be very similar to what I have done and am doing with the Viking Cats (found at that link). However, in this case, rather than the Poetic Section merely being a retelling in verse of the prose tales, the prose tales will be types of moral lessons, while the accompanying poem will be a sort of encoded form (in verse) of instructional lessons for the Wizard.
Short Stories involving Alternaeus
A Cup of Seasoned Blood Held High and Close
A Summer’s Still Frozen Tomb
A Tincture of Tantrels, Thiggers, and Thieves
Alternaeus and the Afflatable Axeman
Alternaeus and the Ageless Alchemist
Alternaeus and the Ancient and Infinite Desert
Alternaeus and the Apothecary of Arcadia
Alternaeus and the Architect of Always
Alternaeus and the Assentuary
Alternaeus and the Barbarian Scout
Alternaeus and the Cauldron of the Ken and Kithmen
Alternaeus and the Cunning Craftmaster
Alternaeus and the Eldritch Occultist
Alternaeus and the Fateful Forge
Alternaeus and the Forest of Forever
Alternaeus and the Greek Philosopher
Alternaeus and the Harrowed Hide-Man
Alternaeus and the Hermit Saint
Alternaeus and the Hoary Hoardsmen
Alternaeus and the Invisible Merchant
Alternaeus and the Jewish Physician
Alternaeus and the Knight’s Errant
Alternaeus and the Limitless Librum
Alternaeus and the Long and Lamentable Pilgrimage
Alternaeus and the Loom of Longing
Alternaeus and the Maiden’s Moon
Alternaeus and the Man to Come
Alternaeus and the Minstrel’s Tale
Alternaeus and the Mountain of the Magae
Alternaeus and the Pipe of Splendrous Price
Alternaeus and the Plate of Plenty
Alternaeus and the Prince’s Philologist
Alternaeus and the Quidnunc
Alternaeus and the River of Everywhere
Alternaeus and the Roman Engineer
Alternaeus and the Satyrion
Alternaeus and the Serious Syrian
Alternaeus and the Seven Spjallsangers
Alternaeus and the Son’s Last Sun
Alternaeus and the Stalwart Shire-Reeve
Alternaeus and the Surreptitious Sorcerer
Alternaeus and the Theokardia (Heart of God)
Alternaeus and the Thespian’s Thunderstone
Alternaeus and the Unchanging Thing
Alternaeus and the Unknown and Wondrous Ruins
Alternaeus and the Village Pugilist
Alternaeus and the Warrior Monk
Alternaeus and the Wightwright
Alternaeus and the Wild Woodsman
Alternaeus and the Withered Witch
Alternaeus by the High Sea
Alternaeus on the Ocean of Eternity
Echo No More
His Brandish Blade, Before and Beneath Him
Invention and the Erstwhile Industry
Salt and Cloth and Ashes
Slurry of the Norsemen
That Glass that Looked Upon Us All
That Language Long Lost to Man
The Battle of the Earnest Men
The Book, The Bell, the Candle, and the Corpse
The Cleverly Hidden Tax-Taker
The Clock of Hard and Holy Water
The Colorful Cap of the Cloistered Clergyman
The Crucifixer’s Conundrum
The Day of Lost Things
The Dog, the Owl, and the Fish of Christ
The Fall That Rose Above Itself
The Gamboller’s Gamble
The Grail of Living Waters and the Grael of the Drowned Men
The Hapless Hagiographer
The Hearthland and the Foreign Firepit
The Hospitaller’s Honor
The Insistent Incense of the Incensed Man
The Lord’s Last Avenger
The Lotus-Eater’s Lamp of Little Oil
The Lover’s Lonely Lock
The Lute that Wept When the Women Sing
The Madonna’s Terrible Tears
The Mistaken Martyr
The Mnemonic Mansion of the Mind
The Mosaic of No-Man
The Mystikal Map of the Other World
The North-African Acolyte
The Novice of Necessity
The Parchment of the Buried Pearl
The Port of Many Merciless Plagues
The Proverbial Provencial
The Rod of Earth and the Rood Above
The Ship Saved by Sedition and Circumstance
The Sirens of Sumorsǣte and the Persistent Polymath
The Skalding of the Bitter Bard
The Stars Are Distant, Our Troubles Near
The Templar’s Torment
The Theurgist and the Thamuatugist
The Tower of Intemperate Times
The Undiminished and Unbroken Staff
The Deflowered and Uncaring Spring
The Virtuous and Valiant Layman
The Wandring Ghost
The Warmth of Winter
The Wise-Man’s Secret Heart
The Wizard and His Wyrdpack
The Wizard Who Would
The Wizard’s O’erwhelming Wyrd
The Wizard’s Withy Wand
THE NECESSARY MAN
Vlachus laughed at his commander and freely drank of the dark wine.
“Spoken as a true soldier. But let me speak as a former farmer and a monk of God. There is much pleasure, my friend, in the creation of new life. That is indeed true. Yet there is an even greater joy in the fostering of it.
Any man may plow the field, and enjoy the swift and sweet sweat of that labor. Yet only the True Husbandman labors long at the profit and the produce of the fruit. Sow where you can commander, but gather where you may. And if you see another field untended and the crops therein languishing to fail then are you not lawfully allowed to step into it that field and harvest what was already planted so that they are wasted not? Indeed, are you not obligated to do so?”
Marsippius looked at Vlachus in consideration of his speech, but then opened his hands as if in supplication or supposition to the priest.
“And what of you?” Marsippius asked. “Are you unfit to reap what others have sown? Are you not also obligated?”
Vlachus handed Marsippius the wineskin. Marsippius immediately noticed how much emptier it seemed. Then Vlachus wiped his mouth upon his long decorated sleeve, rubbed his hands briskly together, placed them closer to the fire and glanced admiringly upwards at the bright alien stars. Finally he looked back across the flames and drifting smoke at his friend.
“Oh, I am certainly fit to reap and even still to sow,” Vlachus said, his long untended beard casting weird shadows in the firelight and making his face seem momentarily made more of ethereal questions than earthly answers. “Nevertheless I am a monk. I would make a far better grandfather I think than a sire. This child though needs a father. A real father, truly known and knowing. You are an excellent, if sometimes uneven commander of men, Marsippius Nicea. Furthermore I suspect that you are already a fine father as well. And would be so again if necessary. The question you must ask yourself is this: are you now the necessary man?”
Marsippius sighed and rubbed his scarred sword hand through his now lengthening hair. Vlachus’ gaze seemed to him extraordinarily bright and perceptive in the uneven light of the struggling fire.
“You are also, I have seen, an unfailingly honest man,” Vlachus said. “So, if I have spoken in error of you then correct me now.”
Marsippius studied the monk’s face for a long while, and then his gaze fell back into the fire. He would not say what he saw there, and he did not answer his friend.
Vlachus of Armenia (The Myrelaion Monk) to Marsippius Nicea, Commander of the Basilegate
From the Kithariune
This (concept, idea) actually occurred to me as a dream this morning right before I woke. It will now go into my various novels about Iÿarlðma (the Kithariune).
To be used as a plot device.
And it will likely go into my various games and role play games (in modified form, of course) to also be used as a plot device.
KELBRAE, KELBRURAE, and KELBRAE-ILAR
Kelbrae is a certain type of secret writing used in Iÿarlðma that is usually inscribed upon parchment in Eldeven ideographic or pictographic symbols (and far more rarely in Elturgical glyphs) though theoretically it can be inscribed on almost anything. It usually consists of raised letters or symbols not unlike a pictographic form of human braille. However by running one’s hand over the Kelbraec script pictures or symbols or ideas are transmitted directly to the mind of the “reader” rather than “reading Kelbrae” being a process of touch interpretation of letter or word symbols, as with braille. Kelbrae is usually written in an open or visible script (rather than in Elturgical glyphs) though it is still Elturgical in nature and therefore only the intended recipient or reader can usually “read” or interpret it. Others who attempt to read it either envision nothing in the chamber of their mind or sometimes they receive false or confused notions of the real message contained in the script.
If the message is important enough the Kelbraec script can be written in Elturgical glyphs which are rendered invisible or camouflaged from anyone other than the intended recipient of the true message. Kelbrae constructed in this way can be usually be placed onto almost any object or item and can even be written in such a way as to fade away entirely or even to destroy or dissolve the object onto which it has been placed once it is successfully deciphered or the message successfully transmitted to the proper recipient. Kelbrae formed in this way are called Kelbrurae.
There is a final known form of Kelbrae called Kelbrae-Ilar. Kelbrae-ilar is typically constructed and written in such a way as to transmit a deception or falsehood even to the intended recipient or reader. It is designed specifically as a trick, a delusion (sometimes as an actual illusion), or as a form of trap. As a trap the Kelbrae-ilar will sometimes not only convey false information but may also confuse or erase the memory of the reader, convince the reader a false message must be true, render the reader temporally paranoid, sicken or disease the reader, curse the reader, or the message or object upon which it is written may even catch fire or explode. Ilar means, variously, to malign, a secret, to blacken, or a thorn.
THE SHERIFF AS CHIEFTAIN, AND THE CHIEFTAIN AS SHERIFF
I was studying folklore and legend and myth and history last night when it suddenly occurred to me that a sheriff is really just the hold over from the local ancient (Anglo-Saxon) Chieftain. Except modern sheriffs tend to be elected (and are therefore popular chieftains again, in most cases) rather than appointed, as in later Medieval times.
Don’t know why it had never occurred to me to think of sheriffs as chieftains before, especially given the etymology of the word, which I knew, shire-reeve, but it didn’t. Not at least in the truly ancient sense of chieftain, not as a king-thane but as independent local Chieftain, who must approve of and support the king for the king to reign. That is, my idea of sheriff was sort of stuck in the Christian era/Medieval concept of sheriff as king-thane (kingsman) and had not truly stretched back to “ancient chieftain,” as both law-keeper and judge, and local ruler, or chief (high man).
Why do I mention this? A few reasons. This made me think of the recent (that’s right, believe it or not this was only a few weeks back in time) dispute between sheriff’s all across the country and the Obama administration. Of how the sheriff’s were moving more and more and once again to the idea of being “local law chieftains” rather than merely king’s men or king’s servants. Except in many big cities, of course, where you are far more likely to have sycophantic court men (king’s men) called police chiefs anyway. (Not independent Chieftains, but king’s chiefs, or king’s-law chiefs.)
Secondly, and far more importantly regarding my own ideas, I have been wondering how to work in to my own fantasy novels a truly powerful underground movement of sheriff’s (not the modern idea of a sheriff, but the far more ancient one) who both oppose the government and take it upon themselves to act as a front line militia and frontier’s force against border invaders and skirmishers – as a prelude to a far more extensive and permanent invasion by enemy forces. These sheriffs (they won’t be called sheriffs, but the idea will be the same) will operate both in defiance of the appointed local, state, and kingdom governments and in a manner of real desperation because they know exactly what is coming but can’t convince the urbanites and city-dwelling governments what truly approaches. Therefore they must operate much as the Rangers did in Tolkien’s work (who if you ask me were a sort of militia sheriff/guerrilla force who operated with the knowledge of and supposed sanction of the government but often against government wishes) to try and lessen or perhaps redirect invasion routes but are desperate for full support which they are mocked for by the urbanites/governments (and real governments are always truly urbanite undertakings as rural areas don’t need governments they only need assemblies, sheriff’s, and citizen militias) that scoff at their concerns.
Third, I have for a very long time been working into my fantasy novels the idea of a Lone or Wandering (Circuit) Sheriff, a guy who takes it upon himself to wander about areas of the frontier to conduct spying missions and ambushes against enemy forces and enemy skirmishers and criminals and to keep the local peace. This guy is entirely self-appointed and a vigilante (not in the modern sense of the term but in the ancient, Roman Vigilant-sense) and is a combination of the ancient sheriff idea described above, a spy, a frontiersman survivalist, a scout, and a peace-keeper. Much as the Regulators here in SC were in the pre-Revolutionary War days.
Many people consider this man a hero, others an outright thug or at least a dangerous nuisance (especially city dwellers and those in government). He will be both one of the heroes and the anti-heroes of my novel(s). But more and more I am now moving away from the idea of him being a wandering “sheriff,” and more and more he is becoming in my mind a sort of intentionally self-appointed and self-exiled frontiers Chieftain and Vigilant. Along the lines of the true Vigilants of my novel (in the Byzantine empire) but on a far more local and personal scale. For these Vigilant Chieftains (and I need to invent a name for them) are entirely self-appointed independent operators who will work with no one else.
They often warn of and pass along what they learn and discover to those in authority or those who can make best use of their Intel but they refuse to submit to any authority or methods but their own. They are in many ways the very most true of all the “Chieftains.” Though they have no clan and no tribe and no one to lead but themselves. They are “all-duty” and “complete loners” on the frontiers.
The Yarda-lel is an antique, nearly extinct, left-over artefact from the earlier ages of the Eldeven peoples in my novel series the Kithariune. What the yarda-lel actually is and does is described below. It is based upon the design of a real device I first conceived and invented a long time ago and have attempted on various occasions to build for myself but have never perfected (because of sensing issues). I offer it here in a more perfect and perfected fictional form.
THE YARDA-LEL (THE SLEEPING ROD)
Yarda-lel (the “seeming rod,” or sometimes the “sleeping rod”) – an antique rod made of gray and yellow yarda wood which vibrates, heats, and hums when danger approaches. Once a fairly typical item used along the frontier among militia and frontier guardsmen (it was not uncommon for every unit or sufficient size to possess a yarda-lel, or “seeming rod”) which was typically carried by and slept with by the commander of the unit, although sometimes it was also used by the sentry on guard at any particular time. For the yarda-lel was also said to be capable of other functions now lost to time and memory. The ancient Sidhel, for example, were said to employ their yarda-lel not simply as “seeming rods” but also as encoded legates and as artefacts to secretly transmit encrypted messages. It was also not uncommon for wealthy or powerful persons who encamped along the frontier or who settled there for long periods of time to possess their own yarda-lel. Some scouts and infiltrators also carried yarda-lel, especially if they operated for long periods of time along and across the frontiers or behind enemy lines.
It was common to place the yarda-lel either under one’s head or to wrap it across one’s waist or chest or to wrap one’s legs around it as one slept in a dangerous or hostile environment. It is said the hum was transmitted through the bones of he who used the rod rather than being heard by the ear. Some legends persist that the yarda-lel could even interrupt and awaken one from dreams and very deep sleep. Possibly even a drugged slumber.
In time, as the frontier was tamed and fewer and fewer overt threats faced the Eldeven folk the crafting and use of the yarda-lel faded. It is said that few, if any, now remember even how to make such a rod.
However antique examples of yarda-lel, even functional ones, still exist as old heirlooms.
Note on translation: the Eldevens, and the Sidhelic peoples in particular, used the term “seeming” in a way that we no longer do, and in a way not known to men. The precise definition of the yarda-lel is the “rod of yarda wood,” but the underlying connotation is that the rod is both seemly and seeming. Seemly in the sense of being proper and of functioning properly (not to be doubted, but rather to be investigated), and seeming in the sense of both appearing to see through deceptions or to anticipate danger, and seeming as in appearing to be one thing (a simple rod of yarda wood) and actually being many things or many hidden things. A transported or polymorphic sort of seeming. They also meant seeming as in the sense of seeming (for a period of time) to give to another those properties they do not by nature possess.
More rarely yarda-lel could actually be translated as sleeping rod or even dream-seeming rod.
THE FISH WHO KNOWS
I was recently (last year) listening to a set of lectures on ancient Anatolia and the professor mentioned a record of a particular set of “tame fish” who resided in a temple or palace (can’t remember which now) that one could call to (orally) and they would swim up to you. (As you might call a dog.) They were famous and widely known of. Records existed of them. These fish were considered sacred. And even intelligent.
Anyway they gave me an idea-set for a set of fish to be included in my trilogy of novels the Kithariune. The ideas are as follows. These fish are owned by the Sidh or the Lorahn (haven’t decided yet) and are extremely ancient and well known. They are also considered sacred and intelligent. They can trigger highly accurate but confusing prophetic visions and dreams if they bite you upon the finger but their bite is extremely toxic and often kills those whom they bite. Therefore few ever risk such a prophetic vision except in extremis, even the Samarls who are said to be usually immune to both disease and poison. Because even if the fish cannot kill a Samarl they might still put one in a coma or make him extremely ill, perhaps even for life. So the fish have not been used to stimulate prophetic visions in many centuries.
However, according to legend and myth, there is another way the fish can stimulate prophetic visions. And that is to kill, cook, and eat one. (Eating one raw will kill a person but eating a cooked one usually only induces an illness.)
So, one person in the court catches one of the fish, kills it, eats it, and has a set of prophetic visions. However because the fish are considered sacred, because they are very long lived, and because they are considered intelligent it is a crime to kill one. On the same level to the Eldevens as to kill a person. And supposedly a curse is inflicted upon anyone who would dare kill one of these fish. But the curse does not stop there but also extends to the entire group of people who are supposed to be the caretakers and guardians of these fish. Another later attempt is made to exterminate and wipe out all of these fish when the visions occur because the person who ate the fish is afraid the other fish might impart the knowledge of his identity to others.
In any case there will be an ongoing sub-plot (which later develops into a major plot point) about this fish killing, the prophetic dreams, and the accompanying curse. And the Eldevens will have to find a way to either thwart the visions and curse, or to avoid them because the criminal who committed this act resides deeply in the court of the Samarl and because he is a spy.
Later in the story/plot it will be discovered that these fish are tied to the Sidhelic and Eldeven Cult of these Sacred (Prophetic) Fish which is itself tied to the underground Fish Cult of Jesus Christ among the Eldevens. (The Fish being an early and secret sign of Christ among the cult of the first Christians.)
This article (the one below) gave me an idea (although I also partially patterned it after the Library and Museus of ancient Alexandria) for a new adventure/dungeon site or complex. It sits right outside of a major city and appears as an ancient museum to the civilian population and for all public intents and purposes this is all that is known of the complex. It contains numerous replicas (and, it is claimed, some very real examples) of ancient and powerful devices, items, inventions, artifacts, and even some holy relics.
Visitors may enter the Mystereum by day, and during special occasions (or public festivals) at night, to see these things on display, to read descriptions of what they were or of their supposed history and ownership, the known chains of evidence regarding their authenticity, and to be given guided tours and to hear lectures given by the archivists, historians…
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IN ANSWER TO MARSIPPIUS NICEA, COMMANDER OF THE BASILEGATE
“Oh, I understand you well enough. Lord and commander of the Basilegate. For you see I once was you. You believe that man must be ruled by other men. Strong men. Kings, emperors, imperators. Commanders given rank and title, tithe and sway. Men who give commands so that others may meekly acknowledge, bend the knee, and thus obey. This kind of life is well known to the world. It is the ancient and unquestioned way.
But it is not my way. Not, at least, any longer. For I know well enough now of men who will not bend to summons, who will not submit to commands, who seek no orders, obey no demands to speak and live as others will, no matter how strong the strong man be. For I have learned in countless, hidden toils that man should be strong enough, with God’s help, to rule himself. That all men should be strong enough to rule themselves, even when they do not wish to do so, even when they are too cowardly to try. And trust me, many are those too cowardly to try. Orders given and taken are easy to discover and trade like treasured coins in the many markets of the open world. But courage is earned in private, and a labor of many great losses. Failure to be afraid is its only profit, yet still, that profit is rare enough and high enough for me.
In truth, my friend, you know only of the smallness of man. The smallness of ‘go here, and do that,’ regardless of virtue, and heedless of vice. But I do not speak of the smallness of man. I speak of man as he could be, as he was always meant to be, even as he should be when he will not be. I speak of man as a thing far greater than citizen, or subject, or soldier. I speak of man as Man. And I speak as a Man. A man who needs no king, who obeys no emperor, who short of God has no master and desires no master, for God is no master of man but Lord only of his True Nature, of what Man is at his best. Of what man should be. I can live with that Lord, and gladly so, and he can order me as He will, for that Lord obligates me to my highest self. He demands of me not obedience, but that rarest of all ranks – Real Manhood. Perhaps my refusal is to you but insurrection, perhaps my reply cryptic, and perhaps you know nothing now of what I truly mean but I hope and pray one day you shall. As for me I no longer have a country in this world, though I would not see it undefended. Either country, or the world. But I can give no service to you short of Truth. For I have but one Lord now, and he sits no throne in any city of man. Thus all other lords, all other kings, all other commanders, all other basils can go bray and bid and howl as they wish, but I will not serve them, and they are not my lords.”
Then Rhorric, despite the moonless and unnatural blackness, stood and strode to his horse at the edge of the firelight and mounted it smoothly like one long experienced and free of all doubt.
“If you have need of me commander,” he said placing his spear across his right leg so that the point pierced the gathered dark beyond him, “then I will come. Because I am your friend. Because it is my duty. Because I am unafraid. But I will not come because I am ordered to do so. And you will never speak to me in that manner again.”
Turning his horse northwards Rhorric rode out into the troubled night and disappeared from human sight.
Then the entire party murmured at his words and some found them hot and overwrought, and some questionable and rebellious, and some, like Suegenius and Vlachus nodded surreptitiously to each other and smiled secretly to themselves.
Marsippius, though, was at first very angry at Rhorric’s insurgent answer and he stood slowly and carrying his sword with him walked to the edge of the camp where no one else could see him. Then the Roman looked up into the dark sky and saw glimmering there a strange and distant light such as he had never seen before. A bright light, yet fast moving, varying in color but shaped like a small egg. He wondered at it as he watched – what it could mean? Was it an omen of the moment, favored or ill, or merely some unknown celestial light he had never earlier noticed? For although it was easily visible to him and seemed to move across the sky more like a meteor than a star it did not dim or burn away as it moved. He observed it closely as it crossed the heavens, bright, and cold, and lonely, until it was lost behind the horizon or perhaps shielded by some distant range of mountains not visible to his sight. And suddenly it seemed to him as if this wandering star in the darkness was alone like Rhorric, and reminded him somehow of the man. And like the Cappadocian Vigilant it too was unafraid to be a light unto itself. Seeming to pass well beneath the height of the other stars in its peculiar path it was nevertheless not bound by a fixed and otherworldly orbit, not set to move slowly and forever upon the same sure course. Rather it was a thing unbound. Not really a thing of the distant Heavens, but still a thing far above the Earth. A fire of its own will, free to go where it wished, to do as it found best, to live as it would. Then the anger of Marsippius was gone as well, out like the fleeting star beyond his sight, and he found he was no longer upset by Rhorric’s words, but rather all the more curious, and even envious, for he realized that he had never heard a man speak like that in his entire life. And now he wished to hear more. But Rhorric was already gone and only great need could entice him back again.
Rhorric of Cappadocia (the Vigilant) in answer to the commands and summons of Marsippius Nicea, Field Commander of the Basilegate
from my novel The Basilegate (first book of the Kithariune)
HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE
“You ask me how I know this and I can only tell you what I’ve seen.
High Fortune came upon me like a silent serpent, slithering from behind in such a stealthy manner as to conceal his true intent and to scarcely warrant my attention.
Low Fortune approached me like a titled lord, resplendent all in showy pomp and decorative circumstance, attired in the lofty regalia of finely whispered shadows spun from venomous spider silks.
Low Fortune is, you see my friend, the King of Seeming and the Prince of Cunning Craft yet I advise you eschew his long seducing and ever seductive company. For his court is all fantastic façade and fraudulent fashion and his manner and his manor are both estates of ruin.
High Fortune, on the other hand, wears no glittered crown of kingship nor rankish robes of high office nor encrusted jewels of state, he is as plain of face, as rough-built by effort, and as quiet in nature as if stable bred. Yet if on turning round by chance or calculation you find him standing nearby then reach out your hand quickly and grasp him in so firm a hold that he cannot escape, and never let him go until he promises to bless you as his friend.
Leave Low Fortune, brother, where he dwells, even if he home in temple renown or palace grand, for he is the sure slum-lord of soon-to-be sad misdeeds and the master of all unenviable fools.
Instead set your watch and wait patiently for High Fortune, for one day he will approach you in sly disguise, silent and unannounced, to see what can be made of you if you will ever dare. For he is your steadfast, stalwart, and subtle Friend and the Maker of that Fortune you truly seek.
Low Fortune churns like stormy waves, he ebbs and flows and never settles ought. High Fortune stands alone and trembles not, he shelters and secures all Men of Enterprise.”
from the Kithariune (link)
WHO DEPRIVES US?
“And who, my father, deprives us of our better selves that when account is finally made of our inner and truest natures any other than we alone may be said to be the author of our tale and the shape-makers of our very souls?
Seek not to deprive me of my deeds and I will not deprive you of the Just outcome of your every act, for Zeus you are a god all told, but I am Fate Itself. You hold me no more in thrall and now all your thunderbolts are spent yet here I stand uncowed to judge you as you are.
Shall we then commence? Lay naked upon the altar of the autocrat all your countless sins and offenses dark?
Well then all we need do is look into the dim mirrors of your eyes and there we will find all you thought you might hide from Justice, Truth, and Time, but never will.
You can deprive mortal men for an untold age of what is most Just, but no one rightly can deprive the world of what must yet come. And what comes now is your judgment, and your overthrow!”
Herakles to Zeus, from my play Herakles and Aphrodyte
My very first remembered dream, from when I was a young child was of a giant, bright-red, fire-breathing dragon raging from the sky down upon my grandfather’s house (my paternal father’s father) and burning and razing his house to the ground. At the time we lived underneath my grandfather’s house. I was very, very young at the time, barely past being a babe and probably still in diapers (though I was walking) and I do not at that time recall ever even having heard tale of a dragon. Yet I have recalled that dream for my entire life. The dragon both terrified me (at first) and infuriated me (after I saw what it had done). Though in the dream I was very young and had no way to combat it.
“FAIRY TALES, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
“Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”
~G.K. Chesterton: “The Red Angel.”
I finally have the ultimate titles for my set of mythic/high-fantasy novels. They shall be called Kal-Kithariune (Or, The Fall of Kitharia). Originally the series was to be called The Other World but I was never really pleased with that. It was only a preliminary and place-holder title anyway.
The Kal-Kithariune shall link back to another myth/history or time epoch called the Kol-Kithariad (or the Rebirth or the Establishment of Kitharia). I have not really decided if the Kithariad will refer to a period of time 300 years prior to the Kithariune (when Kitharia undergoes a Rebirth or Renaissance) or to a period 3000 years prior when Kitharia is first established and founded.
Ideally I’d like to work it out so that the Kithariad refers to the Rebirth of Kitharia, 300 years before its Fall, but realistically I’m having real trouble making that fit and so it may have to refer to the Founding. It may be better to use the Founding as the other reference point anyway, to contrast the Genesis with the Armageddon and End. But I’d prefer the Rebirth. Though that might be impossible.
Kitharia is a both an analogy and a metaphor for America. And all of the Eldeven lands for the West even though the events take place in what would in our world be The Orient (near our Real World Samarkand).
The individual novels in the series will be entitled:
The Basilegate (The Emperor’s Legate)
The Caerkara (The Expeditionary Force)
The Wyrding Road
The Other World (or perhaps Lurial and Iÿarlðma)
The novels will be a tetralogy. Now that I finally have all of the titles, know the plots and endings of all four books, have the languages developed, many of the poems and songs written, some of the maps and illustrations drawn, have hundreds of entries in my Plot Machine and thousands of notes, and about 200 pages of the each of the first two books written I suspect I can complete the entire tetralogy in under 2 years.
This is by far the very most complicated thing I have ever constructed (to date), at least as far as writing goes and that includes a couple of epic poems I’ve written. I first conceived it in 2007 as a single book and I’m sure I have thousands and thousands of hours sunk into it since then. Despite my other workloads.
Eventually I plan to write a set of children’s short stories connected to it and to at least plan out or begin the Kithariad though that will likely have to be passed on to others.
Before I start either of those though I just want to complete the Kithariune and then move on to my other novels, such as my sci-fi series The Curae (which will be every bit as big as the Kithariune), my detective novels, and my Frontiers novels, such as The Regulator and the Lettermen. And I want to complete my literary novels such as Modern Man and The Cache of Saint Andrew. Plus I want to finish my epic poem America. And I want to write some scripts. Not just TV scripts but movie scripts. So once I finish the Kithariune it may be a long while before I return to myth and fantasy, such as after my “retirement” (though I don’t plan to ever really retire).
I have however learned much by writing the Kithariune. I now know exactly how to plot out both long, complex novels and series, and much simpler single books. So the learning and research and study period was worth it alone in that respect. And it should both add to the richness of the Kithariune and to all of the other novels I write thereafter.
SOME OF WHAT I WROTE YESTERDAY (based either on memory of conversations or events of years past or new experience)
I slapped him on the shoulder in a friendly manner and smiled, but I was deadly serious.
“For God’s sake,” I said, “don’t do that. Don’t be a modern man. Be an actual man. Yeah, it’s always hard, and it don’t pay much most of the time. But at least you’ll be alive. Really alive. And in the end what in the hell else matters?”
from my novel The Modern Man
It was as quiet and peaceful and warm and sunny a day as I had ever seen in my entire life. And that was fine by me. I had sure seen enough of all the other kinds of days.
from The Modern Man
He topped the small hills that ringed the border to the north and the west and looked out before him. The blue and the green covered the land so thick that he couldn’t see the ground. Not anywhere.
It was an ocean of grass that stretched out forever, with no shore to be seen.
from my novel The Basilegate (Larmageon describing in his own mind wandering the “Blue-Green Sea” just beyond the borders of Kitharia – inspired by my hike in the forests and across the fields today; everything is in bloom and as thick as blood, especially the grass)
“My son, as the Lord taught us, you cannot save the world alone. But if you at least set out to try then neither shall you ever fail it…”
from the Basilegate (The Abbot of Studios writing to the Viking Christian convert Drakgarm of Gotar)
Nothing Works if you won’t.
from the Business, Career, and Work of Man
There is no sin in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The sin lies in either avoiding pain merely to seek pleasure, or in seeking pleasure by inflicting pain.
from Human Effort
THE OLD STANDING STONES (Both Versions)
Last week I sat down and wrote a song that I had originally intended for my Bard (his name is Larmageon and he is Welsh) to sing in one of my novels, the Basilegate. As a sort of a lament, and a dirge. It was supposed to be a rather dark song about a myth of a submerged city off the coast of Ireland that rises every so often at midnight on Samhain and the city is populated by ancient dead warriors. It was a symbolic dirge of a supposedly lost song that the Bard then used to analogously lament what had happened to his friends. That is the first version of the song/poem you see below.
Thereafter I looked at the song and said to myself, “This really is close to an Irish/Welsh real myth and I should rewrite this song as a real world song or poem.” So I did using real Irish/Celt/Welsh place and symbolic names. That version, the second version, came out to be much brighter and more upbeat, but the tempo is changed slightly. By the way after the less well known Gaelic names or terms I included, in parentheses, the more original pronunciations, and their meanings.
I like both versions but the first is a far more generalized version written for an English audience and specifically for my book. The second version is really more of a throwback Irish mythological song.
So that being said, which do you like best?
Or do you think I should keep and use, perhaps for different purposes, both versions? Or does one version strike you as good and the other bad? Let me know what you think and anyone is welcome to comment.
THE OLD STANDING STONES (version 1)
The old standing stones
Where the ghosts all still roam
Below the Seas of Sarsa
Submerged neath the Mere
They all still come here
To haunt the tides of Current
The walls in the waves
The moon long enslaved
Both shine so like the Danaan
The People long passed
The present now past
Upon the Road of Waters
Who sings of the chance
That tombs are remade Towers?
The barrows below
The streams that bestowed
The last Great Ship of Showern
To the old standing stones
Still guarding the road
Beneath the flood of Faran
Oh can you still hear
The chants and the cheers
When Chulainn took the Island?
And do you still dance
Or sing the Romance
Of the last men still left standing?
Submerged neath the waves
Deep waters their graves
The Green-men go a’feasting
The blue in their blood
The tides and the flood
Their numbers all decreasing
The stars brightly gleam
The moon often seen
To kiss the Ring of Rona
Yet still can you hear
If the night is all clear
The Lost Hope of Ilona
So tell me of old
Of the place far below
Of the dark halls deeply downing
Where the old standing stones
Still guard the last road
To the Hall of Sorrow’s Drowning…
THE OLD STANDING STONES (version 2)
The old standing stones
Where the ghosts all still roam
Below the Seas of Saorla (Say-la – the noble queen)
Submerged neath the Mere
They all still come here
To haunt the tides of Cara (meaning, the friend)
The walls in the waves
The moon long enslaved
Both shine so like the Danaan
The People long past
The present now passed
Upon the Road of Una (Oo-nah, or Wony, meaning unity, or lamb)
Who sings of the chance
That the tombs are to be Towers?
The barrows below
The streams that bestowed
The last Great Ship of Tara (tower, or crag)
To the old standing stones
Still guarding the road
Beneath the flood of Fallan (grandchild, or grandchild of the chieftain)
Oh can you still hear
The chants and the cheers
When Chulainn took the Island?
And do you still dance
Or sing the Romance
Of the last men still left standing?
Submerged neath the seas
Their limbs now at ease
The Gweneth men go feasting (Gweneth – fair or river men)
The blue in their blood
The tides and the flood
Their hall a loudly singing
The stars brightly gleam
The moon often seen
To kiss the Ring of Roise (roh-suh – a rose)
Yet still can you hear
If the night is all clear
The Last Hope of Isleena (Ish-leena – vision, the foretelling)
So tell me of old
Of the place far below
Of the dark halls deeply moaning
Where the old standing stones
Still abide all alone
In the Hall of Sorrow’s Gloaming…
I’ve cleared my entire calendar for November in order to write my novel for National Novel Writing Month. Aside from some type of emergency, and I don’t anticipate one (though you never really do, do ya?), writing my novel will be my chief priority this month.
So my blogging and other social media efforts will likely lag as a result. So will every other non-essential pursuit as the novel will be my Essential Activity for November. Fortunately I anticipate a very quiet month which will allow me the opportunity to write completely without distraction.
I’ve decided to go with THE OLD MAN as my chosen novel.
I intend to produce between 1500 and 5000 words per day, depending upon the day and the way the story proceeds and progresses. I already have much of the plot, all of the sections, and a few of the scenes sketched out.
Because of my broken wrist I will be writing the novel out in long hand on long notepads and my daughter will be typing it for me. I begin as soon as I’ve had breakfast and I walk Sam (my Great Dane) as it’s been raining this morning and prevented an earlier walk.
Congratulations to all of those pursuing writing their novel this month.
Good Fortune and Godspeed.
See you at the end of the month if not sooner…
The Wolf Winds howl on the March to the East
The Blood runs red at the Gathering Feast
The Young Men sing of the Slavering Beast
And the Old Men moan, “Where is our Peace?”
The Monstrous Scale as empty as Death
Measures the Nothing hung over the West
That labors like Murder to steal every Breath
From everything Living, the cursed and the Blessed
High in the Mountains, deep in the Sea
Something is stirring, Horrors set Free
To Harass and to Harrow as if by Decree
The Marrow in Man Bones, Harbinger’s Key
Hid in the Old Dark biding his Time
Lurks the Great Creature stuck in his Limes
His hatred his Quickstone to hasten his Climb
The Day soon approaches, Ruin his Rhyme
But deeper than Old Darks, great in his Weight
Diseased of his own rot, an Absolute Fate
Hatred is small match for his Poisoned Date
Swollen and bloated he waits at the Gates
The Dawns will all soon fall away without Light
The Strong will all tremble even the Night
For Old Dark and Unknown will rise in their Might
To obscure the Pale Earth from even God’s sight
Men think they know Evil but Evil is Young
Of Far Older Powers still songs can be Sung
For These are Approaching, Chieftains Among
The Slayers of Futures that Silence All Tongues…
An unfinished poem I began for Halloween. It will go into one of my books of poetry.
Continuing on with my short story THE VENGEANCE OF TÔL KARUŢHA and my prior posts on Conan. I have the entire story written (though not typed) and will post it here in its entirety when I get it all typed as an example of my short story writing ability for agents, publishers, and my followers and fans. For now my previously broken wrist makes typing long periods of time problematic and so I pay my daughter to do it.
For previous entries see here: THE FRAGMENTS OF TÔL KARUŢHA
and here: CONAN, BABA YAGA, AND TÔL KARUŢHA
Conan saw the blood seep from the wound of Tôl Karuţha. Perhaps, he thought to himself, it was a trick of the dark and the nearly moonless gloom of the Ophirian night, but that blood seemed unnaturally dark and uncannily sleek to him. As if it were a slick but soiled oil or possibly even the ichor of some preternatural monster rather than the blood of a mortal man.
A guarded growl erupted deep in Conan’s mind, along with a primitive alarm and revulsion of the supernatural that demanded his future attention. Conan resolved to investigate later, when he had the opportunity to observe closely and without arousing suspicion. If he got the opportunity.
At the moment he was in a fight for his life against ever mounting odds, and for all he knew his erstwhile “ally” could desert him at any moment by showing himself more fiend than friend. For now Conan must slay, or be slain, and so he set about him with a fury and a lust for combat and gore.
In satisfying his lust he would be fully sated, for his enemies met him with equal ferocity and far greater numbers.
Time weighed against Conan. Time and numbers. His oldest enemies. His most dangerous foes.
THE KNIGHT OF AGONY AND THE WITCH OF WOE
KNIGHT OF AGONY: “Strut of all conspiring women and bald intemperate Witch of thy sex, in these darkest charms you drive me on, and less now than my naked self, I am nonetheless repletely covered in the enchantments of your moist and damning sorcery.”
GREAT WITCH OF WOE: “Knight of anguished men, would you my powers any less than to wring from the sleeping Earth of night, and from thy inmost longing lower parts, those burning fires which wake the dead and melt away all obstacled defense?”
KNIGHT OF AGONY: “Fie! Acquiteth thou thy e’er contingent ends and thereby make rich embodiment of my piercing hot desire, that all conspire, as I envision, and portend…”
WITCH OF WOE: “So shall it be! And with a rueful laugh I grant thee all you hide and seek, though seek you more, and hide you naught. Yet in the attainment of the barren gap between the grasp of man and the groan of ghosts you may still discover deep in me far blacker things in motion, and far more potent sorceries. Now, does this bargain still allure, or have you acted premature?”
KNIGHT OF AGONY: “It still suffices, and allures. Now come to me, immortal hell and all, and in thy keen and cold embrace I shall endure…. Thus shall I endure.”
This morning I arose about 5:30. Immediately the above lines came to my mind, though I have since edited and improved them. I do not know why these lines came to me, but that is a common practice with me, to arise from sleep or a dream with a poem, a song, a story, or an invention in my thoughts.
So it was this morning with the Knight of Agony and the Witch of Woe.
It is part of a piece I intend to make into a short, one act play. Probably for Halloween.
While looking for an illustration or graphic to use with the post I stumbled upon illustration for TH White’s The Witch in the Wood and the Ill-Made Knight. That was not an inspiration for this piece, but when I saw the illustration I remembered the work which I read long, long ago, and found it apropos.
STILL NO JOY… BUT GETTING CLOSER
I know it’s very little to complain about, relatively speaking, but as a writer I just had the most frustrating night/morning of my life.
I went to bed about 11 to 11:30 last night, totally exhausted, and then rose again sometime not long after midnight. Ideas for my novel were running through my head, a lot of them, too many to just note on my bedside table notebook and so I went downstairs to my office and fired up my computer.
I then worked from shortly after midnight until 4 AM on nothing but the title of the novel series I am currently writing. I know exactly what each of the four books in the series will be called separately but I’ve gone through several incarnations of the title for the entire series and have never settled on anything that seems to really fit. My latest, or the Working Title for the series is The Other World or The Other Worlds, which fits to a degree, but isn’t entirely accurate or encompassing of what the books are truly about.
I ran through terms and titles after terms and title with still no joy and nothing availed. I felt like I had been awakened with a purpose but everything I thought of remained frustratingly just of reach and meaning.
At almost four o’clock I sat back in my office chair, cold, tired, and defeated. It was kinda like working a scientific experiment and everything I tried got close to a solution, but eventually all iterations failed.
Finally I looked to my left and saw my new copy of the Poetic Edda and thought to myself, of course, “I’ll use a title something like the Eddas,” suggestive, but not all encompassing or limited. Because for a very, very long time I’ve wanted to use a title like the Aeneid, or the Odyssey, which would be perfect if not for the fact that the books are not really only about one character, even Prester John. So I thought, maybe something like the Eddas?
So I began reading one of the Eddas (about Odin testing himself against the wisest giant) and a later one about Thor dressing as a Freya to recover his hammer by deception. But still nothing specific came to me.
At last I put the book away because I was too tired to continue, my brain simply wouldn’t function, but I was still too frustrated to give up. So I began asking God to help me title the series with the perfect title, something I’ve done before many times, but everything he seems to show me in language seems just beyond my perception. As if it is something beyond my own language.
At that point I fell into a kind of trance which was almost a blank mind, but not quite. It was like I was sleeping in darkness but all around me, in the background, I could hear voices whispering and saying things but I couldn’t quite make out the words or exactly what was being said. It was more like images trying to take on the form of words than words forming images. And they were all in the background and still hazy or shadowy. When I came out of that finally it was about 5:00 and I still had nothing specific except the suggestion that maybe I should invent the terms and title I wanted in another language, perhaps in Sidhelic or one of the other Eldeven languages.
Then I was struck by the idea that maybe there should be multiple titles for the series, each expressing a different aspect of what the books are about and each from a different viewpoint, but settle upon a single version for publication.
So I began developing this idea, one title each, each title being in a different language. Each title expressing a different aspect or focal point for the series. Such as a title concerning:
The Main Character or Person – Jhonarlk, or Prester John
The two (or 3 actually, though you never get to see the Third World, only hear of it) worlds involved, something along the line of the Other Worlds
The Weirding Roads (central to the story and implying much, much bigger things than simply a Road between worlds)
(The Fall of) the Vanished Eldevens – the penultimate event of the series and the seeming point of the entire tale, but not really the point of the tale
and 5. The War of…
Only one of these terms will be attached to the books but all of the terms will be spoken of in the books as being different histories covering the same events. And I’ll include little excerpts from these “parallel histories, “ (and I may speak briefly about their authors) each implying a different aspect or idea-set about what really happened and what the tale was really about but I’ll settle on one title for the series. Most of the histories will be in prose or in narrative form, as mine will be, but at least one will be in poetic form (probably the Lay of the Fall of the Vanished Eldevens – English translation, not the Eldeven term) and most of the poems in my series will reference that history as poetic extracts.
But I’ll not write full versions of those histories, only hint at them and include extracts from them and those versions will also have some alternate versions of the events in my book.
I’ve therefore, because of last night/this morning written a little author’s introduction to the series.
(The claimed author will not be me, but will be a man by the name of Wyrdlaef, a seemingly very minor character in the books who follows Larmaegeon to Constantinople and then to the Isle of Avalona and after the destruction of the Other World returns to our world and secretly writes his account of these events and hides his books in an Irish monetary which then eventually makes its way back to the Other World. )
The introduction is very rough so far but goes something like this:
“These books recount the history of the Great but Invisible Wars that took place on our world and upon the lost world of Iÿarlðma in the years of our Lord 797 to 835. At that time an ancient and noble but since vanished people fought alongside Man for the fate of the Earth and Heavens and the preservation of their own kingdoms. Great these people were but of what their true nature, like that of man, a created being, or like the very angels in flesh, or like some entirely other thing I still cannot tell, though I lived among them for a long time. Five accounts there were of these events, that I know of, but to my knowledge only my brief and poor and incomplete account remains. But if all were told as it truly happened then, as was said of our Lord, not all of the libraries of the world could contain those accounts for the splendour and wonder of the tale. These books then, my account of these fantastic and horrid events, I call the Fall of the Vanished Eldevens and they speak as well as I am able of the final encounter and friendship between Man and the Eldevens against many ancient evils and monstrosities I still do not understand. For it has been said, with good reason and as I witnessed with my own eyes, that the Eldevens were entirely destroyed by their enemies, wiped from the face of their world, with those small numbers of survivors who did escape driven into the wilds to be hunted to extinction by their remorseless enemies. But I have also heard, from both the seers of that strange people and from the prescient prophets of our own devout holy men that one day, far into an uncounted future, Man and the Sidhs of the Eldevens would once again meet as friends on the shores of yet other distant and undiscovered worlds, and that God would have mightily blessed and enlarged us both. Of that time, if it ever comes, if it is ever true, I shall see nothing, for I shall be long dead and buried. But I hope and pray that my account survives, and that perhaps this prophecy is real. For everyone would be the better for it…”
Wyrdlaef (the Wanderer)
This is part of a draft chapter from my book The Basilegate (from The Other World novels). Rather than explain or detail the background I’ll just let you read the story for yourself.
This chapter begins at the Iron Gate, winds through what today would be modern Russia and ends along the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire.
But this is only the first part of the chapter.
I will be serializing parts of this novel here, on Wyrdwend. For Bookends.
THE IRON GATE: PART ONE
He passed through the Iron Gate and none bothered to oppose him. Why should they? Death would come soon enough.
He had seen men watching him as he stumbled past them, had noticed them as they studied him, pointing, or whispering to themselves. He had seen the guards; skins burned dark by long life lived outdoors among the frontiers, their flesh the color of fine but sanded clay. He had seen them take notice of him, and realizing that he was alone, and doomed, had seen them finally turn away or gaze on at him in curiosity, but not in fear.
He staggered forward, impelled more by main force and force of will than by any desire to make any kind of camp, or achieve any end, other than the one he suspected lay not long before him. He was a mass of Northern muscle, and in a more carefree age, a mass of unconcern. But not this day. Not this hour.
He was a mass no more, except of wasted flesh, blood-clotted black and clinging to limbs still driven hard, but all a’quiver. His clothes were ragged, and perhaps more threadbare than he. His boots were tattered, consumed with holes by hard wear and patches from long poverty. His cloak was gone, it covered him no more. His helm was likewise long ago departed. His armor, what was left upon him, did creak and hung loose and much abused. His single weapon, his langsax, was chipped and knotted, bent at places, it’s sharpest tip now broken blunt. His skeg axe was missing, already lost a’field from many days before. His sword was shattered, having given its last service long before he himself had been likewise cleaved from himself, run to ground by desperation and long flight at night. His spear had been splintered along the banks of a river he had long traveled, but never heard named. And with it went his last hope of war when he found himself numbered among the doomed of his watch.
His shield had long lasted, but round at the edges it had been burst sharp through the center, till like the timbers of a battered prow it had been smashed to pieces, along with the spine of his arm. At that blow he had staggered, a man drunk with too much of the wine of close combat, and toppling like one of the frigid giants of old he had crashed from the cliff into the gelid waters below. And this, this fall from manly grace and the unnatural fire of a ferocious battle he could not have won, into the cold of the waters from the earth underneath, this had stilled his heart with shock and preserved his life with a flood of harsh ice. But only for a moment.
The cold had slowed his wounds, made blood freeze in his veins, made him sluggish, numbed the bright agony of his broken arm and shattered knee, had helped to staunch the long gash torn through his calf, had wearied his mind so that death approached slow and as bedraggled as he. The river had turned him, tossed him, oriented him away from his companions, and his brothers at arms. Yet deep in the recesses of his darkest thoughts he knew they were no more. Colder even than he. Once men, and large, and well made, trophies now to despoil.
He pulled himself from the waters, a mist of stinking furs and wounded flesh, injury the common lot that ran the entire life-course of his body. He was insensible of the pain of his catastrophe, or perhaps it is better to say that he was nothing but hurt. So much harm inflicted that he could no longer mark any particular pain, but rather pain seemed all he was, and all he wished to end. He tried to stand, collapsed, breathed hard and harshly, his mouth steam rising like that of a newborn calf, his stance no straighter or better. But he grimaced, and would not relent. He stood, and staggered, and felt something rend inside his leg each time his knee did make to support his weight. He shed his cloak as a serpent would his elder skin, in long and frustrating effort, it peeled away from him as if in regret and with the anchored weight of besoaked hide. He grunted. He stuttered. He could not speak, groans his only tongue. He rested, sought to scan the horizon with his eyes, the land having been made flat again by the time the river had disgorged him like a misspent meal. But his vision was blurred, dim, closed in and frozen. It extended no farther than his imagination, and his imaginings were all of darkness, and dread.
The sun made to collapse in the West, behind mountains he could sense in the distance, but not see with his eyes. The warmth of the day, what small comfort it had given, was already fading, his own heat wasted and stolen by the drench of his baptism by water and trial by ice. He made to the tall grass, then fell to the dry ground, rolling and coating himself in the dirt as he could, hoping it would absorb the wet and help dry his shaken frame. A frog scampered by and he caught it with his unruined arm, and tore off its head in his mouth. The cold blood was warmer than his and the skull of the frog he did gnash in his teeth as he chewed. The sound comforted him. He could still eat, and he could still kill. Therefore he could still live if the long night would let him. He found he was hungry, and that the gnaw in his guts did wear hard, and began to grow and inflame, and as it did so, so did his limbs. And the ache of his body was far worse than the hunger he felt. But as he ate he regained some lost measure of hope, and there settled into his mind a new will to press forward. He tore off one of the back legs of his catch, and then the other, eating slowly, watching the night fall. Then he pulled out his langsax from his battered belt, and used the blade to slice open the belly of the frog and he did, as he could stand it, smear the blood and the entrails of the thing onto the deep gash in his calf, and along the break in his arm, where the bone did protrude from the mottled blue skin. For he had been told in times past by the Rus that if he smeared the blood of a beast upon an open wound then the clot of gore would help seal his own cut, and help knit it together and scab it clean. He did not know if this were true or not, but he was full for the moment and it seemed foolish to him to waste the entrails by tossing them aside.
He slept uneasily for awhile within sound of the river, crackling sounds sometimes startling him, as if the ice sheets from further upstream were still washing down and clashing against each other to shatter like frosted glass. The dew came down and reminded him again of the damp that still covered him, causing him to shiver while shards of sweat and frozen drops did run along his back from time to time.
He was cold beyond reckoning, but with the rise of the moon he took once more to stand, and after several tries he regained his feet. He moved West, into the darkness, towards the mountains he had felt in the distance. Towards the land that the Rusmen had told him could not be conquered. Towards the land of the Roman, and the place they called, the City of God…
THE BRAIDS OF STRANGULATION AND THE DEAD ROADS
I meant to post this yesterday, for Highmoot, but I was out of the office.
Had an odd dream night before last about a set of murders that woke me up at about 4:00 this morning. In the dream there was a living, malevolent force which, and I kid you not, had twisted the hair of three girls into a weird, almost supernatural looking set of complex braids which I could tell from looking at had been “encoded” in some way. I only saw the partially disentangled braids after the murders had occurred at the various scenes though, so they were altered from their initial appearance. Apparently all three had visited the same salon where the braids had been twisted. Somehow, as the girls slept (all young, in their mid-twenties, and all lookers with no apparent other connections between them) their “braids” had become animated and strangled them in their sleep. All of them however had apparently awakened during the strangulation process. Except for one girl, the braids had slithered down her throat and slowly suffocated her.
Well, upon waking and thinking on it awhile (it was a very weird case and left me with an uncanny and disturbing feeling – you know, like when you’ve witnessed some evil at work and it takes awhile to dissipate) I realized I could use the same idea in one of my Other World novels. So I sketched out the possible scene and here is what I got:
The Samarl of Samarkand (who we would call Prester John) invites emissaries from all of the surrounding people and races to try and get them to ally together (for the first time in thousands of years) against a common enemy and threat he has foreseen. He even openly invites human representatives from the Byzantine empire who have accidentally ended up in his world.
While staying in the capital city and in the palace of the Samarl the ladies of the dignitaries are “attended to” out of courtesy – entertained, feted, etc. including being provided with free clothing for the upcoming counsel (which they are also invited to attend) and having their hair decorated and perfumed. Seven women are invited to be so attended, but one demurs, just out of a sort of uneasy instinct and because her people do not want to be beholding to, and are suspicious of, the Sidh, the Samarl’s folk. On the third night after their arrival all six women are murdered and dead, five by strangulation and the sixth by having been suffocated, all by their own magically woven braids (called Balial – which before this time are considered highly decorative, enchanting, and a sign of great prosperity and Good Fortune). I’ll save the how for both a political and Ilturgical (sorcerous) mystery later in the book.
The woman who refused to be attended survives, of course, but one of the women, the one who had been suffocated by swallowing her own braids, her husband was first killed by his wife’s braid. The murder incident causes a huge uproar in the capital, and a near Civil War breaks out, with some of the represented peoples either fleeing the city out of fear or outright and immediately refusing alliance, suspecting the Samarl or his supporters. A riot breaks out in part of the capital that takes another three days to put down.
This of course has almost exactly the effect that the conspirators behind the episode had envisioned.
But it gets worse. As those ambassadors who have either fled the city or decided against alliance return home they are misled by still more sorcery (Ilturgy) to take “Dead Roads or Dead Ways” (called Iaklits) as their pathways. The Iaklits are actually old and ancient roadways, long abandoned which no one but criminals now use, and even then rarely (because they are considered both useless and haunted), but to the emissaries they seem to be the normal and proper roadways, because of the sorcery and illusions lain upon them.
Upon coming to the still elaborately decorated but partially ruined Chavoeth (a series of ancient bridges that had once crossed mighty rivers) the parties momentarily hesitate and there is a debate. Confused because they don’t recognize the old bridges, but misled by the enchantments and not wanting to turn back they decide to cross. But as they reach the centers of the bridges the illusions fade and the bridges collapse killing many under the rubble but also drowning quite a few in the stinking morasses and fens and pits which the Chavoeth now span. A few survive from each party to tell the tale of both the strangulation murders at Samarkand and of the Iaklits and the traps at the bridges.
None of which has a happy effect upon the efforts of the Samarl (Prester John) to form a Grand Alliance against the approaching enemy.
But all of this happens due to the naiveté of the Samarl and the Sidh, and the other Eldevens (the related Peoples), to understand both what they truly face (they have bred war out of themselves through a long period of unchallenged peace and have become incredibly soft and unsuspecting) and the conspiracy within their own midst. Then rather than recognizing these potential dangers they begin fall to Civil War among themselves completely ignoring the real enemy, both the external one, and the one worming it’s infectious way through their own culture and government.
The Strangulation Braids and the collapsing Bridges and the “Dead Roads” therefore are not just events, they are also underlying metaphors for these facts and weaknesses.
I’m gonna write up a couple of drafts and samples containing basic work-outs of these scenes, maybe starting tonight, but for now I have a nest of wasps to kill and then I’m spending the day with the family.
Have a great day folks.
THE WOUND THAT HEALS
The Wound that heals to help secure
Our Lives Eternal to endure
Was writ in Blood and sweat and toil
Then buried in the fruitful soil
That God had plowed in hearts of men
The day he died to live again
His Tomb a Rock, a mountain-top
A different world from which to spot
A brilliant Kingdom, richly cast
Full of souls and fit to last
Beyond the dark of night and death
Into the morn of what is blest
About the God who would be Man, and
Men made new by God’s Great Plan
To heal them true and make them fast
With his own Wounds, so deep, so vast;
A nail, a scourge, a crown of thorns
A cross, a spear, and sin engorged
Upon the Wound that heals us all
Upon the Man who stands and calls
To us upon this Easter Morn,
“Come my Friends, and Be Reborn!
For my Wounds were made for Thee
I give them all, I give them free
And if you’ll touch them to your Heart
Then you and God shall n’er depart –
For the constant Blood my Wounds ensue
Shall Live in God, and God in you…”
I had been thinking lately about the Myth of the Wound that can only be healed by the Weapon that made the wound. These thoughts made me realize, just a few days ago, that Jesus had rewritten that Myth, that the Wounds of Christ, the wounds Christs suffered via the acts of men are the only ones that can truly heal man of what most wounds him.
In other words the Wounds of Christ inflicted by man are the very Wounds that Heal man, and remake him into the Kind of Man he was always meant to truly be.
I guess that had lain on me for the past few days for this morning I woke with this poem running through my head. So I sketched it out on the notepad beside my bed and then came downstairs and wrote it out in full on my office computer and now I post it here.
So this is my poem for this Easter and in Honor of the Wound that Heals.
Lately I have been compiling the literary allusions that will appear in my Other World novels and inserting those allusions at the appropriate places in the plot structure of MY books.
My novels will have allusions to many previous works of literature but rarely will I quote or mention by name or source the allusion. Rather I will take the allusionary reference from the original source of literature and rewrite it to fit the events of my own novels, yet, nevertheless, the allusions will be there encoded within the works if you know what to look for or if you are familiar with the passages from the original works.
I will include allusions to the following works, among others:
A Song of Ice and Fire, GRR Martin
Acts of the Apostles
Aeschylus (various plays)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Book of the Fallen
Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock
Harry Potter, JK Rowling
Jonathan Strnage and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Le Morte De Arthur, Tennyson
Lyonesse, Jack Vance
Oz Books, Frank Baum
Shakespeare: Henry the IVth, and MacBeth
The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Song of Roland
The White Stag
Thomas Covenant Books, Stephen R Donaldson
As an example of how I intend to insert such allusions into my own novels here are two illustrations of my process of my process:
The Aenied, Virgil
Original Line: “Sleep! Sweet gift of the gods… It was the time when the first sleep invades languid mortals, and steals upon them, by the gift of the gods, most sweet.”
My Line: “And where will you go now?”
“I would lay down upon the ground and go to my death if I could, but failing that I would go to my dreams.”
“To your dreams? And who will you meet there?”
“I do not know, but this is too much and I must sleep. For I am weary and if God himself finds me in my dreams may he finally gift me with forgetfulness of all I have seen and done. That alone would be sweet and meet to me now.”
The Worm Ouroboros, Eddison
Original Line: “There’s musk and amber in thy speech,” said Juss. “I must have more of it. What mean they to do?”
My Line: “Musk scents your voice with something strong and dank, but amber seals and occludes your real meaning. Speak clearly to me now or I will slice open the rank resin of your speech with my keenest hunting knife and peer into your throat to smell for myself your true intent.”
As some of you know my youngest daughter recently asked if she could do a special study on some of the Ancient and Medieval kingdoms of Africa as part of her homeschooling studies. I readily agreed as I like the subject myself and she just finished a great course of study on archaeology. So this seemed like a natural extension of her previous study set.
Well, I got as much good material together as I could from our local library system, which admittedly has little decent material in the way of books on Africa (any part of Africa, especially African history). What I could get though I got. Most of the books – I wasn’t too impressed with except for a very excellent book on the early spread of Christianity throughout northern and eastern Africa called The Blessing of Africa, which I had previously read myself in my studies for the priesthood. (One day I intend to help found churches in Africa. Or refound is perhaps a better term since much of Africa was Christian until the Muslim invasions and slave trade.)
As I said many of the books were less than stellar but the video materials I got were quite good and since I’m here at the house alone today I thought I’d look at one of the videos on the Lost Kingdoms of Africa. I’ve watched two episodes so far, one very good one on the Nubians and Cushites and a truly excellent one on the Ethiopians and the Aksum Kingdom.
The guy who is the host or moderator is obviously a black Brit archaeologist (given the accent) who nevertheless tends to dress something like an American cowboy and definitely does not like desert environments. He’s got that cold blood of the Brits I guess. It’s very amusing to listen to him say over and over again, “Man, I have never been so hot!” He’s an eclectic character, and his manner of dress, speech and aversion to heat make me laugh. Nevertheless he is bright and a good host and the show explores some fascinating places and investigates some interesting history.
One thing in particular that I learned regarded Ezana the Ethiopian (Aezana of Aksum), who was educated by two Syrians who had become shipwrecked in Ethiopia. One of the Syrians was a Christian monk (Syria being the first Christian kingdom in the world – most of the entire Near East and much of Africa being Christian before the Muslim invasions) who converted Ezana and Ezana become the very first Christian Emperor of Ethiopia.
Considering his background, the size of his kingdom (which was quite impressive), the number of Near Eastern, Arabic, and Christian states it was in contact with, and given the novels I am writing I cannot help but think that Ezana was at least one chief aspect of what would later become the historical template for the Prester John myth.
Ezana converted to Christianity, expanded the empire considerably, instituted educational and religious reforms (similar to what Charlemagne and Alfred the Great would later do in France and England), imported people from all over the nearby world as advisors, and expanded trade. He was also the first to mint Christian coins, interesting since Syria was the first Christian kingdom, and he had been educated by a Syrian.
There is a character in my Other World novels, a man by the name of Erasto Qwara, and he is a primary character in the party of the Oro (Moonshadow), which is a rough analogue of the Byzantine Basilegate. The more I study Ezana though the more I think that some of Ezana’s attributes will be adopted into the character of Erasto.
Erasto, while recovering in Egypt from combat injuries decides to join the Oro to try and discover, almost precisely as the Basilegate is trying to do, why so many odd and unexplainable things are happening in our world.
Before that however Erasto has a vision, or a dream, or a mystical experience in which he is instructed to go to Alexandria and from there to Constantinople.
But while watching the video today on the Nubians I discovered that they had built a large, room-less and solid, very impressive mud-brick temple or ritual building (part of a large ritual complex at Kerma) called the Deffufa. It reminds me of nothing so much as the Ziggurats in the Near East, but it is far more oddly shaped.
Originally I had planned to have Erasto’s vison occur one night while he lay alongside the banks of the Nile, the vision echoing Abram’s vision of God when he called God a “Horror of Great Darkness.” But now I think that I will rewrite that scene to make it so that Erasto’s vision occurs while he sleeps one night alone on the top of the Deffufa, and that instead it will far more closely resemble Jacov’s vision of the Ladder or Stairway to Heaven.
Also, since later the entire Oro will have a very eerie experience with the obelisks at Karnak in which the obelisks ring like gongs and then produce weird music and a spooky voice I think I might also work in as a prelude something to do with the “Rock Gongs” of Cush and the cobras of the Split Egyptian Kingdom.
So, it seems my daughter’s homeschooling project has actually turned out to be of enormous benefit to the plot and historical research of my novels. I’m quite glad she chose this particular course of study.
Well, that’s enough research for one day so I’m going to go play Metal Gear. Have a good evening folks.
By the way, below is a brief character description of Erasto Qwara the Ethiopian, and his position in the Oro (Moonshadow).
Erasto Qwara – born in Axum, the third of six children, Erasto grew up following his family tradition of soldiering. At fifteen he became a Christian Soldier and rose quickly through the ranks, so that local officials were soon sending him as an escort and emissary to foreign lands, such as to the courts at Egypt. Smart, driven, and self-educated Erasto learned six African tongues and was soon able to read and write Koptic, Greek and Latin as well. Because of his linguistic skills and general education by the age of 19 Erasto was made commander of a unit formed to escort diplomatic missions throughout the Nubian kingdoms, along the coast of east Africa, into the tribute states of the Arabian Peninsula, into the Near East, and also into Egypt. The farther afield Erasto roamed the more types of people he encountered and he soon discovered that he loved to mix freely with people of different nations and races. Developing a personal interest in trade Erasto also was soon gaining experience as a trade representative in addition to his diplomatic and military skills. Born into a devout Christian family Erasto nevertheless had no interest at all in religious matters until traveling in Egypt he discovered an early copy of some of the works of the Philokalia written in Koptic. Reading it eagerly Erasto became a devout Christian and returning to Axum began to study under Aksumite Christian Masters. Erasto remained a solider but also developed a strong interest in interpreting scriptures from a Monophysitic point of view, and became such a skillful writer, fluent interpreter, and powerful debater on Christian doctrine that he soon earned the nickname, Qwara, the Cushite Christian (even though that was a misnomer). At the age of 25 Erasto was assigned to escort a trade and diplomatic mission to the Byzantine Empire by way of Egypt and the Mediterranean. At sea his ship, along with several others, was attacked by Sicilian pirates and many on his ship were killed. Erasto was severely injured in combat and had to return to Egypt, where as a result of his injuries he was retired, but allowed to retain the rank of Commander as a Christian Soldier. While recovering in Egypt he studied with Kopts in Alexandria to become a Christian Cleric and within two years was ordained. After ordination he was returning to Axum but stopped at Karnak where he met Addo and the other members of the Moonshadow.
In my Other World novels the Sidhs use a code word (or the Samarl and his allies do in any case) to describe a being they believe to have existed for a very long period of time using a most unusual method of life extension. (Or possibly it periodically dies and is reborn again.) The Samarl and his allies believe this being to be evil and an enemy.
The word used to describe this being among themselves (so no one else will understand who they are really talking about) is Daufin. The Daufin is typically also identified or represented by a code symbol, as well as a drawing of a mythical beast (which actually exists and is controlled by the code-named Daufin, though few believe it actually exists anymore), and by a code phrase.
The term Daufin is not to be confused with the French term Dauphin though I readily admit that I took the term directly from the French term. And yes, for those who know me well you must be thinking, “French?” As you know I have little interest in modern things French, but in Ancient things and Medieval things French (the Franks for instance, and Charlemagne, and the ancient Romances, and the Gauls) I have great interest.
And I have great interest in the Dauphin, both the one denoting the Medieval prince and the more ancient term I suspect it is derived from, and what that implied. The Dauphin has always fascinated me though I rarely mention it.
In any case before I insinuate the conspiracy surrounding the Samarl and the Daufin too deeply in my novel I have been trying variants on the term, as I actually very much adore the term Dauphin and think it perfect though being French, even if it is early French, it is not linguistically suited to the Sidhs and the other Eldeven peoples of the novels. With that in mind here are a number of variants upon the term Daufin which I might use. If you have a favorite variant or you wish to suggest one of your own that strikes you as particularly pleasing then please leave a comment and let me know. If you want to explain why I’ll be happy to know that as well.
Variants on the term Daufin/Dauphin:
Daufang (this sounds a bit too Oreintal to me, but given the origins of the Daufin it might serve well)
Below is the code phrase (in verse) used to describe the Daufin, and it seems a sort of song, and it is, but it is also a set of codes by which the speaker identifies what he knows about the Daufin. As more is learned more verses are added. It is obviously translated into English from the original Eldeven:
“Arose the Daufin from the seas, as deep and dark as Tântalos
Whose ruin ran the riven world three times round the sunken hosts,
What is this thing, whence did it rise, who sired it or set it loose?
How many times to be reborn, how many mortals yet seduce?
A secret thing crawls in the Egg, the Sun has never seen its face
When will it hatch next in the world, all other things to then erase?”
The seeming symbol for the Daufin is a mythical beast, but the symbol for the real Daufin is of a multi-headed sea-serpent hatching from a giant egg along the flooded beach of a sinking island.
I’ve got some really good and interesting stuff up on my Gaming Blog today, including a Greek animated reproduction of the Tomb at Amphipolis.
The Poetic Song:
The Tales of Hale
In ancient lands of ice and fire
Was born a boy to roam the world
Old Conn was both his friend and sire
Long woven was his fate unfurled
For brothers true in danger shared
He had the faithful Viking Cats
As frontiers, monsters, ruins dared
They wandered far to come at last
To lands and climates they knew not
The Earth, the Sea, and Heaven’s Knot
As Conn’s Own Heart the boy first known
Explorer, Roamer, Viking son
Strong and tall he sprang, well-grown
To wander waves beneath the sun
Adventures deep and dangers dire
He chased full round the earth and seas
Disaster overtook his sire
As heir to father did accede
Of myths and legends many sing
The Tales of Hale heroic ring…
THE TALES OF HALE AND THE VIKING CATS
Continuing on with the Tales of Hale and the Viking Cats. More entries on this story can be found in category, The Viking Cats. This is the first-part of the poetic section of the novel I am writing, the Viking Cats. The book will be a children’s book aimed primarily at young boys, aged 7 to 13 or so.
The Book is about the boy Hale, who is the son of an Explorer/Merchant Viking (not the raping, burning, pillaging kind), and his adventures traveling the world with his newly converted Christian father Conn. (At least until his father is killed and Hale must assume leadership of his exploratory/trading expedition.)
Hale however is a very strange lad. He is preternaturally strong and uncannily intelligent and inquisitive and it is discovered later in the story that Conn’s father made a strange deal with God prior to Hale’s birth to give his son a unique Wyrd, which will follow him for the rest of his life and will fashion for him a peculiar and unforeseen fate.
Hale is also accompanied by three enchanted Viking Cats who are both his close companions and oftentimes his rescuers or guardians. Many other bizarre things will occur throughout the course of the book as Hale and his crew and cats wander the wide world.
The book will be divided into two sections. The first part will be the prose story, or the Proeric Tale. The second part will be the poetic section, and will be a poetic retelling of the prose story with certain variants in the storyline, and it will, of course, be presented in verse as a semi-Skaldic or Scopic song meant to be sung upon the lyre or the lute.
The Viking Cats – I sat down and sketched out the chapters and the progression I had been working on in my mind for my novel.
Below are the Chapter titles.
The book will primarily be targeted at young boys, let’s say 7 to 13 or so. It will be somewhere between 120 to 140 pages long (my initial estimate), maybe longer.
The story is a mix of literary, historical, spiritual, and real life (for me) influences combined in a single story that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.
In general format it will be similar to the White Stag, one of my very favorite children’s books of all time. But instead of Attila the Hun (and later Chieftain and King of the Huns) being led by a White Stag (overland) into the West the character Hale (a very common boy of no great background who nevertheless rises by merit and courage to become a great explorer and man) will be led by a series of Signs and Wonders and Adventures in which it will be difficult to tell the natural and mundane from the supernatural and the miraculous.
In this way it will parallel the Biblical story of the Exodus.
It will also show, throughout the progression of the story the influences of Nordic, Greek, Roman, and finally Judeo-Christian culture and religion upon Hale’s development, and by extension how these Four Strains of Culture and Religion interweave, like threads of a tapestry, to create a Western Man. So the book will obviously be filled throughout with important cultural, historical linguistic, literary, and religious allusions.
It will also describe the boy’s life, from his birth to age 28-29, when he disappears from the story by sailing into the Far West with his surviving clan, friends, and animal companions.
So it is additionally the story of a boy’s growth into manhood.
Each chapter will begin with a section of a fairly long poem called, “The Viking Cats.” The verse tale will ostensibly be about Hale’s adventures with his Viking Cats as explained by the Prose sections of the story.
But the poem will really be a Riddle in verse about the Four Strains of Culture and Religion shaping Western Man, how a boy actually grows into a man, the supernatural influence of God and miracles upon the development of a kid’s soul and his Wyrd, and what attributes (such as self-sacrifice and courage) and virtues (such as justice and mercy) a boy should practice to become a strong and true man.
At the end of the book, in the afterwards, will appear the entire Poem of “The Viking Cats” presented as a Skaldic Song.
My intention in writing the book is to give young children a good and exciting adventure story, to teach them about their culture, history, languages, and religious background, and to give young boys (especially young) a pattern-story for how to grow into a man, unifying both Secular Duties with Sacred Virtues to produce a True Western Man. I want to move very far away from the effeminized boy and man of modern culture and return to the better and older model of the Strong and Courageous and adventurous Boy and Man of the West who is nevertheless open to being tamed, to becoming a gentleman, and eventually Christianized without the loss of his essential manhood. That is I want to portray Hale as all boy becoming all man while nevertheless becoming Christianized and civilized without becoming weak and effeminate (as our modern culture stresses far too much). I’ve been wanting to do this kind of book, as well as feeling it is essential and necessary in America to have such books for young boys to read, for a very long time. Now, I feel, is a good time to write this.
I do not want to come right out and say these things in the story, not pedantically of course, but if the story implies these things and children pick up on this, then I will have achieved my True Aims. In others words I don’t want to preach these subjects, as I think boys don’t like that, instead I want to ‘adventurise and enterprise’ these subjects through exciting action tales that parallel tales of Romance and Chivalry, but not as tales of nobility but as everyman/everyboy tales that kids can emulate in their own lives.
I will be posting more on the Viking Cats later, along with some excerpts from the novel…
The White Cross Cloud
The Skald, the Würm, and the Wyrd
(birth to 7)
The Hound of Geatland
The Bear in Winter
The Southern Stars
(8 to 14)
The Spear that Shattered (The Hunter and the Boar’s Hide)
Hale and Well Met
(15 to 21)
The Burning of the Red Drake (The Man that Burned)
The Great Fortune of the Wondrous Sword (+Ulfberh+t)
The Eagle of the Lake Lady
(21 to 28)
The West Beyond
Afterwards: Song of the Boy – A Riddle in Verse
III. Being a Small Section of the Lay of the Myth of the Eldevens – Below is to be found a small section of one of the most ancient versions of the Lay of the Eldeven.
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN
Being the Account of the Arrival and of the Old World
Before all there was another Iÿarlðma (another world, another Ghanae). In those days many ancient and wondrous things visited Iÿarlðma from elsewhere, wandering this world and inhabiting it for brief seasons, yet never long lingering. The world in those days was broad, and deep, and untamed, filled with many archaic and dangerous creatures full of strange life. Many things did creep and crawl and did seek out the untrodden secrets of hidden recess which are now long buried beneath the deep mounds of great age. But none with mind and soul, as we think…
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Last night a friend and I were having a discussion regarding Myth and Fantasy on his Facebook page. Since this is a subject I have much studied and long thought about I decided I would post my reply to his discussion on this page. So here is my summation of some of the more salient differences, and some of the basic similarities, between Fantasy and Myth.
This is in the form of my Facebook page response, of course, but later I will create an essay out of this and related material I have written in the past on the same subjects.
SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN FANTASY AND MYTH
To me it mostly depends on if you’re writing Myth or Fantasy.
Myth, such as Tolkien wrote is filled with footnotes and endnotes and much of Tolkien’s myth refers directly to real world history or is a thinly veiled modification of it, just as Classical myth is, e.g.. Homer and Virgil.
The Black Gate is a modification of the Iron Gate of the Byzantines, Rohan was a modification of a real place and people, etc..
If it is fantasy it might also contain heavy historical elements, but they are greatly modified and changed significantly. In that kind of fantasy (swords and sorcery fantasy) magic is more important than myth, the supernatural more important than technology or realism, story more important than history, and character more important than culture (typically).
Tolkien for instance created very realistic cultures and landscapes that were well developed enough to imagine living in, or wanting to live in. Howard, with Conan (fantasy), created heavily modified versions of semi-realistic, but mostly underdeveloped proto-human cultures that few if any would really want to love in. Same with Moorcock (another fantasy writer). A lot of underlying history and myth in both Howard and Moorcock, no real admirable cultures or worlds to live in. No real higher mythic and spiritual content, a lot more grunt-work and gritty adventure and survival.
I follow that same general pattern. I’m writing a mythic series (The Other World) which is a mix of Byzantine realism and the mythos of Prester John. It is also a retelling of the Fall of Constantinople and the founding of America in mythic form. It has a lot of “high, mythic, poetic, and spiritual content.”
I am writing another series of what I call magic and miracles fantasy which is based on what we now know of pre-historic and proto-human cultures, but the emphasis is not on sweeping myths or great cultures, but on personal adventure, and individual supernatural and magical experience.
(And this is paradoxically why poetry and song so rarely appear in pure fantasy, and when it does, it is almost always of very inferior quality – but in myth really good song and poetry is a primary and necessary component – Beowulf and the Iliad are poetic, in Conan real poetry and song are absent. Real Myth is poetic, by nature. Fantasy is prosaic, comparatively speaking.)
In myth magic is tightly controlled and there is little of it, especially overtly. Magic is underground and few can master it. Magic is an elite force employed by an elite few. In fantasy it is usually ubiquitous yet extremely dangerous and likely always out of control, or completely uncontrolled. In fantasy the elite think they can master magic but it almost always it overmasters them. In myth they often can master magic, be it Gandalf or Wotan, though it always has a price for the greedy and unwise. (Such as Fafnir.)
On the other hand, Conan being a fantasy character and a barbarian and a primal man instinctively knows this about his world, he lives in a supernatural and fantastical environment (not a mythic one) , well above his personal pay-grade. The way to equalize magic is not to make it rare and tightly controlled, like in myth, but to avoid it altogether, or destroy it if possible. In myth magic is really a spiritual force, good or bad, and not easily understood or mastered. In fantasy magic is not a spiritual force, but supernatural nitro-glycerin.)
In myth there are also obviously miraculous and apparently fated events. In fantasy fate is what a man makes of himself.
And to me therein lies another of the real differences. In myth, although the characters are very important, the myth is Fundamental. Obviously much bigger things than the individual are at Work.
The myth is what is really being discussed; the characters are archetypes in action.
In fantasy the cultures and the environment are the archetypes, it is the characters being discussed. The individual is what is at Work. The person is in reaction, struggling to bring things under his own control, and usually failing.
In my second series, the fantasy series, the books are about the adventures of Solimar, who is renamed by his god and given a mission to fulfill in the world. So he roams the world seeking to fulfill his mission and understand his supernatural origins, both at birth, and at “rebirth and renaming.”
Solimar, who begins as Soar (So-ar), is really a retelling of the stories of Jacov and of Abram (Solimar’s god, Olim, or Holim, inserts his own name in the middle of Soar’s name to remake him into his representative in the world) in a vaguely Conan like form. Though Solimar is not a warrior but more of a spy, and a Jack of all Trades adventurer, who has become his god’s semi-reluctant and covert Agent.
Now all of that being said I still think there is plenty of room in the middle. As a matter of fact GRR Martin and his series is exactly that. Half-mythic realism, half-magical fantasy. Half Westeros mythos (and Real World history – Dunk and Egg), and half Dragon-Egg/White Walker fantasy. And you can clearly see how the two separate worlds impinge upon and overlap one another, and you can also clearly see how they are separated by, “A Wall.” (In Tolkien the wall of separation was the frontier of Mordor.)
So if you ask me you can lean towards the ends of the bell curve, or, if you wish, seek the top and the middle.
Plenty of room to roam landscapes in all directions if you so wish.
Indeed. The original Tales (and I’ve read several of them) are powerful and horrific, more like the uncensored stories of Baba Yaga. The revised tales are mostly impotent and simple-minded by comparison.
‘It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the tales for children,’ says editor of uncut edition
Not for kids … an illustration from the new edition of Grimms’ fairytales. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö
Wednesday 12 November 2014 06.09 EST
Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.
The Grimms – Jacob and Wilhelm – published their first take on the tales for which they would become known around the world in December 1812, a second volume following in 1815. They would go on to publish six more editions, polishing the stories, making them more child-friendly, adding in Christian references and removing mentions of fairies before releasing the seventh edition – the one best known today – in 1857.
Jack Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, says he often wondered why the first edition of the tales had never been translated into English, and decided, eventually, to do it himself. “Though the Grimms kept about 100 of the tales from the first edition, they changed them a good deal. So, the versions with which most English-speaking (and German-speaking) readers are familiar are quite different from the tales in the first edition,” he told the Guardian.
His version of the original 156 stories is just out from Princeton University Press, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and shows a very different side to the well-known tales, as well as including some gruesome new additions.
How the Children Played at Slaughtering, for example, stays true to its title, seeing a group of children playing at being a butcher and a pig. It ends direly: a boy cuts the throat of his little brother, only to be stabbed in the heart by his enraged mother. Unfortunately, the stabbing meant she left her other child alone in the bath, where he drowned. Unable to be cheered up by the neighbours, she hangs herself; when her husband gets home, “he became so despondent that he died soon thereafter”. The Children of Famine is just as disturbing: a mother threatens to kill her daughters because there is nothing else to eat. They offer her slices of bread, but can’t stave off her hunger: “You’ve got to die or else we’ll waste away,” she tells them. Their solution: “We’ll lie down and sleep, and we won’t get up again until the Judgement Day arrives.” They do; “no one could wake them from it. Meanwhile, their mother departed, and nobody knows where she went.”
Rapunzel, meanwhile, gives herself away to her captor when – after having a “merry time” in the tower with her prince – she asks: “Tell me, Mother Gothel, why are my clothes becoming too tight? They don’t fit me any more.” And the stepmothers of Snow White and Hansel and Gretel were, originally, their mothers, Zipes believing that the Grimms made the change in later editions because they “held motherhood sacred”. So it is Snow White’s own mother who orders the huntsman to “stab her to death and bring me back her lungs and liver as proof of your deed. After that I’ll cook them with salt and eat them”, and Hansel and Gretel’s biological mother who abandons them in the forest.
Zipes speculates that the Grimms’ changes were “reflecting sociologically a condition that existed during their lifetime – jealousy between a young stepmother and stepdaughter”, because “many women died from childbirth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and there were numerous instances in which the father remarried a young woman, perhaps close in age to the father’s eldest daughter”.
Cinderella’s stepsisters go to extraordinary attempts to win the prince in the original Grimms version of the tale, slicing off parts of their feet to fit the golden slipper – to no avail, in the end, because the prince spots the blood spilling out of the shoe. “Here’s a knife,” their mother urges, in Zipes’ translation. “If the slipper is still too tight for you, then cut off a piece of your foot. It will hurt a bit. But what does that matter?”
Grimm Not such innocent fun … an illustration from the new translation of How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö/PR
Zipes describes the changes made as “immense”, with around 40 or 50 tales in the first edition deleted or drastically changed by the time the seventh edition was published. “The original edition was not published for children or general readers. Nor were these tales told primarily for children. It was only after the Grimms published two editions primarily for adults that they changed their attitude and decided to produce a shorter edition for middle-class families. This led to Wilhelm’s editing and censoring many of the tales,” he told the Guardian.
Wilhelm Grimm, said Zipes, “deleted all tales that might offend a middle-class religious sensitivity”, such as How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. He also “added many Christian expressions and proverbs”, continued Zipes, stylistically embellished the tales, and eliminated fairies from the stories because of their association with French fairy tales. “Remember, this is the period when the French occupied Germany during the Napoleonic wars,” said Zipes. “So, in Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, the fairies are changed into wise women. Also, a crab announces to the queen that she will become pregnant, not a frog.”
The original stories, according to the academic, are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.
But they are still, he believes, suitable bedtime stories. “It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children,” Zipes told the Guardian. The Grimms, he added, “believed that these tales emanated naturally from the people, and the tales can be enjoyed by both adults and children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.”
(with apologies to a Better Poet)
Progress, progress everywhere
Of every theory drink;
Progress, progress we all share
But not a man to think
Our very souls do rot: O Christ!
That ever we should be
Like slimy things that have no will
Our voices dead banshees
About, about, we should so rout
The death-fires of our night;
Our minds like bitter witch’s oils
Our blood and bones made wights
Our darkest dreams assured are
That Spirit plagues us so;
Deep within he’s fathomed us
Our Natures now he knows
And everyone, through utter doubt
We’ve withered at the root;
We can not do a single good
For all our ways are moot
Ah! Well today, what darkened looks
From all we, old and young!
Unlike the Cross, our sins emboss
The evils round us hung
We could repent, we could revolt
If blood ran in our veins!
But ice, it will not circulate
So only waste remains
Rime she coats our inner selves
While we sails seas of death;
We travel far, but go nowhere
Our black hearts without breath
Oh progress, progress everywhere
Do we even know the term?
Our vices grow fat like a worm
That one day soon must turn…
God is the least passive and static Being and Force in the universe. Any universe. If you are “waiting upon God” then it is only because you have gravely mistaken your real position in relation to things. God long ago easily and immediately surpassed you and is merely waiting upon you to catch up to him, not the other way around.
Do not deceive yourself. You do not “sit and wait upon God.” God sits and waits upon you… sometimes interminably.
THE KEIN, THE KITHE, AND THE KÏTHÊL
Before starting to work on my novel, The Viking Cats, I decided to take Sam for our regular afternoon mile walk through the woods. As we did we came across a large herd of cattle in one of the adjacent fields because a neighbor is clearing the next field for pasture land.
The herd was mixed white and black cattle. When I saw this it gave me an idea for an omen in one of my other novels, the Fantasy/Myth novel of The Other World.
In these novels a series of prophecies and omens appear which forewarn the various nations and characters of what is about to happen, but few pay any attention to such omens anymore. As a result only a small minority of people actually understand and prepare for what is about to occur.
In any case this is the background of this particular omen:
In the other world (Iÿarlðma) there is a tradition among the Sidèhl and the Lorahń (the two most contentious, numerous, and powerful races among the Eldeven peoples) of Symbolic Sacrifice Exchange.
The Sidh and the Lorahn have often fought in the past, usually involving small skirmishes, but in the distant past they fought many bloody and desperate wars leading to great destruction and on occasion even Civil War. So almost 3000 years ago they developed a ritual act of Peace and Fealty through Mutual Sacrifice Exchange.
The Sidh developed a herd of pure white cattle (not really cattle as we think of them, far more massive, powerful, and wild creatures but for purposes of illustration I will use the term cattle) with white eyes and without any blemish or other coloring. This herd is called the Kein, or the Kein-Sidh.
The Lorahn developed a herd of absolutely black cattle with jet back eyes. This herd is called the Kithe, of the Kithe of the Lorahn.
Each folk keep a herd of 300 or so such cattle only for the purpose of the exchange and as an act of peace-keeping and bond-searing.
Every three years, at the summer solstice, the herds are intermixed and interbred. Whatever is produced, regardless of numbers, if it is all it black goes to the Lorahn, if it is all white then it goes to the Sidh. If the offspring are of any other color, blemished, have any other color eyes, or are in any other way not like their father or mother herd then they are given to other folk, such as the Jukarn.
But every now and then, every few hundred years or so, one cow will give birth to a set of Twin Cattle, alike in every way except coloring. One calf will be blood-red in coloring, the other sea-blue in coloring. These twin calves are called the Kïthêl, and they are a powerful omen of things to come.
Almost inevitably one calf will be born with a congenital defect and will die within a few weeks of birth.
If the blue calf dies and the red one lives then it foreshadows a disastrous and destructive war, not necessarily between the Sidh and Lorahn (though that might be the case) but possibly one that will afflict all of the Eldeven peoples. Or the omen may signal an invasion upon the Eldevens by a powerful foreign force or people.
If the red calf dies and the blue calf lives then it foreshadows a terrible plague, catastrophe, or disaster that may well kill large numbers of Sidh, Lorahn, or the other Eldeven peoples.
However, on very, very rare occasion both calves may either be stillborn or may die shortly after birth. In this case there is an ancient but well known prophecy that such an event signals both a terrible war and horrible catastrophe.
But in the novel which I am writing the Kïthêl both live and begin to grow to adulthood as healthy and massive and seemingly tame and intelligent animals, an event that has never before occurred (that anyone knows of) and no-one can interpret what this actually means.
Some assume it testifies to a long period of peace, prosperity, and plenty, others assume it means the collapse of either the Sidh or Lorahn peoples; others have no idea what it might signify.
Actually there is a very ancient prophecy that was written and hidden away, being encoded within another text and even within an artefact, that was proclaimed long before the herds of Kein and Kithe ever existed. It tells of a blue calf and a red calf, born of the same mother, who grow to adulthood and what that prophesies for the future. But none of the characters in the book are immediately aware of this ancient prophecy or even that it exists. Only slowly do the characters become aware of what it is and what it might mean.
Well, I had best return to writing my novel.
By the way, this is a prime example of what a good walk does to stimulate your imagination…
A brief scene of combat between Marsippius Nicea (the de facto commander of the Byzantine special forces team the Basilegate) and a creature he has never before encountered.
This creature had been attempting to ambush Marsippius as he traveled alone through unknown territory but Marsippius observes him first and sets for personal combat.
From one of my Other World novels.
This is the second draft of this scene.
Marsippius bent his stave so fiercely that the bow seemed to double backwards like the horns of a fresh waxing moon, halving in height while multiplying many times in deadliness. He drew the shaft end all the way back past his furthest eyesight, feeling the soft fletching touch his ear like the passing wings of a fleet bird of prey at the final swoop. His left arm held steady being guided by the narrowing of his sight, the subtle turn of his stance, and the short hold of his breath. The spine of the shaft seemed perfectly still and straight, being of Eldeven make, and nearly perfect in heft and balance, and absolutely square and true in line. It was a killing shaft, an instrument of unfettered war and swift death, and he meant to use it as such, having been trained by the Sidèhl themselves in its best and most effective use. Both stave and shaft had been made for him, and he alone, presented as personal presents for his leal and long service to the Kitharians and the Samarl of Samarkand, and he had high faith in their making and great certainty in their sharpness and surety of purpose.
The creature came on in a rush, howling and growling all at once, its unnatural darkness and emanations of malice preceding it like an angry stormcloud swelled with preternatural fury. It ran in a lope, explosively at each new stride, seeming to leap both upwards and outwards to cover great distances as it moved in a bizarre, uncanny, and unsteady gait. Yet on it came, eerily but surely, 120 feet away, 100 feet away, 80 feet away, 60 feet away, and then Marsippius loosed his arrow. The shaft sped ahead a few feet into the open space before him, quivering and twisting in the air as it too lept forward uncannily, and then the shaft disappeared from sight as if Marsippius had loosed a thunderbolt, and not a crafted shaft of mortal make.
Marsippius saw nothing of the arrow’s flight but the shaft reappeared almost instantly, buried deep within the monstrous folds of fat and muscle that were the thing’s lower belly. It howled anew, grunted ferociously, twisted in its wild careen, fell sidelong with its massive and hairy arms outstretched to try and absorb the blow it would feel as it crashed to the broken ground in a wreck. The black soil churned when it struck, and a cloud of dark debris exploded violently at the impact. The thing rolled catastrophically, filling the air with guttural and awful noises, and screaming unknown curses in an unknown tongue. If it was a tongue, and not the signaled sound of diseased damnation spout out from the ugly mouth of hell. The creature rolled out lengthwise and then stopped moving.
Yet only for a moment.
Then it twisted away from the earth as if the ground underneath offended it, stood to one knee, and ponderously, painfully, used its powerful hands and forearms to rise once more to its monstrous height.
Marsippius bent forward slightly and quickly plucked another upright arrow from the ground where he had placed five more silver shafts before him. He nocked the new arrow, drew once more, and lowered his aim upon the hard gasping but still living thing.
The speed and momentum of its crash and fall had cast it forward towards Marsippius even farther than perhaps its loping run might have, save for the momentary pause as it stopped to rise and examine itself and the severity of its wound. Barely more than thirty feet now separated the Roman soldier from the obscene and unnatural beast – the thing, the monster, whatever it might in truth really be.
Marsippius could see the slick and slimy foam fleck upon its bloody and crusted lips, and a sort of black ichor was seeping from the terrible wound left by the arrow the Roman had shot deep into it. The fall and roll had shattered the Eldeven shaft, leaving only a few splintered shards of dirty debris still protruding from the gape that the crash had made by gouging out an even bigger and more vile tear in whatever this thing called flesh. Marsippius reasoned, or perhaps hoped, that the fall had not only broken the Sidhelic shaft and torn the wound too wide to heal, but had perhaps driven the remaining end of the shaft and arrow head deep into its bowels, therefore assuring it bled to death in time, or eventually killed the creature with a black infection grown from its own foulness and rot.
The creature stood erect again, but then bent forward, heaving to breathe, its dreadful and reddened, bulging orbs fixed upon the Roman like the terrible eyes of venomous serpents spawned in the torture pits of the far Orient. Marsippius could see the thing debating with itself – would it try and close the gap between them as quickly as possible, risking another wound like the terrible one it now suffered? Or would it turn and attempt a reckless and wholesale flight hoping the Roman could not shoot it twice with the same skill and near lethal effect?
Marsippius for his part considered that if he shot again and missed he might not have enough time to make a good third shot before the thing was upon him, and in his own mind he rehearsed his next actions in sequence, as his training and experience had taught him to imagine and prepare for each engagement. First he would fire, and kill the thing or not, he would then draw his Spatha from its sling along his back and await the charge of the monster, hoping that in its fury or desperation he could spy a spot to drive his blade so deeply and true that the shock and force would prevent a counter-attack, and do the thing swiftly to death. In his mind Marsippius was practiced, cold, watchful, and wary, as his years of combat and warfare had taught him to be when faced with great danger, but in his heart he knew that if the creature took him in its grasp it might very well rip him to pieces as a man might pull apart the soft limbs of a roasted hare well before he might hope to kill it.
So the Roman aimed for the center of the beast, at its deep barreled and protruding breast, focusing his attention so absolutely that he saw nothing else but what he imagined to be the misshapen and misbeaten heart of the fearsome creature. Hearing nothing but the ragged breathing of the beast as it struggled to catch its breath and overmaster the agony of its vicious wound. If it came on he would place another shot with all his skill and the full fury of his toxon, and if it fled he would exchange its rounded chest for its flat and wide back as the target of his aim.
Almost as if sensing what he thought the creature turned sideways, making itself a much smaller target than before and momentarily confusing the soldier’s aim. It also almost assured that even if Marsippius hit him squarely, it would likely not be a lethal wound, since unless struck in the head or neck the thing’s cobbled and disordered armor or his thick muscled chest, thighs, or arms would most likely absorb the greater part of the damage of the shot. Marsippius therefore refocused his aim, for he still meant to either partially cripple or hobble the creature, but he now suspected he could not kill it with but another single shaft. He also now wondered if the thing might hope to stand still long enough to exhaust his bow arm, attempting thereafter to dodge or deflect his shaft, then come rushing on with whatever strength it might have left intending to overpower Marsippius in close combat. Again the Roman practiced in his mind what he would do next; fire, draw his blade, await the charge, and strike his best blow, or if the thing avoided his shot and then took to flight, whether to pursue or try to shoot him again as he fled.
Marsippius waited, but the thing shifted not again, and even seemed to calm, to relax, to gain mastery of its breath and pain to such a degree that it seemed to become more inanimate stone than living thing. Marsippius resisted the urge to shoot until he felt both his arms begin to quiver slightly, and fearing that exhaustion at the long draw might weaken him at sword-arm should combat become necessary, he relaxed monetarily, caught his breath, and loosed.
The shaft hummed warmly as it took flight, quivered, sped like a flash of lightning, and disappeared. It seemed to Marsippius that the shaft flew entirely true but the creature was cunningly crooked, or else some unnoticed witchcraft was hard at work as the arrow sped, for the flight went awry and clearly missed its mark. This time Marsippius thought to himself, the thing was ready, and not arrogant and reckless in attack. It now knows I am dangerous, it now will be doubly so.
Marsippius cast his bow aside, reached down and slung his shield to his left, sliding his hand and forearm into the bracings and setting himself for the coming fight. He reached behind him and swiftly drew his Spatha, the weapon of his youth and the ancient heirloom of his command. Having been recently recast by Eldeven art at the request of the Samarl it seemed to both shiver and shimmer in the noonday sun, but the creature came on again covered in grim and grimy gore, hot with renewed fury and bent on unholy vengeance. It met the Roman’s bright blade with a darkness it cast out from itself. If there was to be any further flight, thought Marsippius, then it would be because one of them fled this world entirely and for the very last time.
Had an interesting idea this morning while walking Sam for one (or maybe more than one) of my fantasy/mythological novels. Probably first and foremost for The Other World.
It is called the Throne of Wisdom and it is based upon my own experiences with my office chair (which I intend to replace today with a new and far better engineered chair).
The Throne of Wisdom is a chair/throne employed by one of the Kingdoms in my novels. The throne is beautiful and seems luxurious to all appearances and whoever sits in/on it (after being properly appointed or elected or having won the chair by right – different methods apply but the throne is never hereditary) will be King.
However by law the new king must sit in the chair for four hours each day, no exceptions, seven days a week. For two hours he must pass judgments and for two hours he must conduct other business. He is not allowed to move from the chair, stand, or go elsewhere. For any reason – of any kind. He cannot go to the bathroom or receive food or drink. He must “Work Upon the Throne of Wisdom without rest or complaint or cease.”
At first the chair seems comfortable but over time, because the throne is enchanted, it becomes slowly ever more excruciating to sit in it. (Like my office chair.) Eventually the throne will physically and mentally cripple and finally kill the one who sits upon the throne. The Wise Man realizes early on that the chair is not what it appears to be and that the throne, while seemingly beautiful and comfortable, is actually a high and heavy burden.
The Wise Man therefore eventually “steps down” when the throne becomes too painful to endure (usually after three to seven years) and gives it over to another, whoever his successor might be. All the wiser for the experience.
The fool and he who grasps at power tries to continue to sit the throne indefinitely until it either cripples him, drives him mad, or kills him.
The Throne will be as much a story about the surrounding population and People of the Kingdom, and about those who attend and serve the king, as it will be about the “king.”
For whenever the People and officers of the court and soldiers and the king’s guardsmen are cowards and fools in their own rights they allow the king to sit indefinitely without overthrowing him, and they follow whatever orders he gives no matter how tyrannical, foolish, reckless, self-destructive (to the Kingdom), and unlawful. Their own foolishness and cowardice makes them craven and witless accomplices in the tyranny of the “Fool King and the Fool’s Throne.”
But whenever the People and officers of the court are Wise they refuse the orders of the Fool King and revolt against and overthrow whoever would sit madly or recklessly forever upon the Throne.
For a Wise People give birth to Wise Rulers and a Wise Ruler knows both his own limitations and his True Duties to his People.
But a cowardly and foolish and self-absorbed people give birth to selfish and foolish rulers and a ruler who is a fool both dictatorially oppresses his people and gives birth to more just like himself.
Some background on the various folk, people, and races inhabiting my novel series The Other World (the Kithariãd) and how they relate to one another.
Human Race – divided into normal human sub-racial groupings. Human beings live on Terra or the Kosmos (Earth) and only by accident (or some would say misfortune or fate) ever visit other worlds, such as Iÿarlðma.
Eldeven Race(s) – divided into several separate sub-racial groupings. These include the Sidèhl, Jükaŗn, Lorahń, Ghêriel, and some say the Avafał and Maştur of Iÿarlðma. Also called the Telwé-Iÿarlðmayn or “Free Peoples of Iÿarlðma.”
Sidèhl or Sidhel also named by men the Caer – Similar in many ways to the Western concept of Elves, but not so much the Tolkien-type elves as mythological elves, the Sidh being an extremely cunning and dangerous group of beings. The Sidh are a noble people but are extremely inscrutable and severe. Highly organized (and some say ruthless) they are considered the de facto leaders and political force among the Eldevens. The Sidh are the natural organizers of the Eldevens. As a result they are the most powerful political and military force among the Eldevens. They are said to be a diplomatic race but are swift to anger and lethal when agitated. In addition it is said that the Sidh are the most naturally gifted of all users of Elturgy (magic) among the Eldeven, yet many of them also are instinctively wary and distrustful of Elturgy. The Sidhel possess extremely sensitive eyesight and can see at great distances. It is also said that some Sidh can see the invisible and some even possess “foresight.” Outsiders often refer to them as the “Wyrd Folk,” or the “Folk of High Dooms.”
Jükaŗn also named by men the Dwelvar – Similar in many ways to Nordic Dwarves, also an extremely dangerous and fearsome people if properly provoked. They also hold generation’s long grudges and occasionally feud violently and bloodily among themselves. The Jukarn are slow to breed and often attempt to hide or segregate their females, who are said to be extraordinarily beautiful and shapely, even if small and fiery, from the rest of the world. Male Jukarn are, however, notorious womanizers of their own females and of the females of other races and many fights and wars have started among them for this reason. The Jukarn are excellent engineers and builders of massive siege engines. They rarely prefer to personally engage in war (for political or non-personal reasons) but are renown as excellent armorers and builders of war-engines. Jukarn tend to be highly intelligent, yet often guileful. The Jukarn are well known for two things, their ability to detect vibrations in their very bones, often providing them with forewarning of approaching disaster or danger, and their extremely keen sense of hearing. Therefore they are often called the “Listeners.” They are also sometimes called the “Blood Folk” for their habit of smearing themselves with a blood red dye for adornment.
Lorahń also named by men the Sylf or Sylvar – a sub-group of the Sidhel and distantly related to them. The Sidh tend to be urbanized and civilized. The Lorahn disdain cities and settlements preferring to live in loose tribal associations (like American Indians once did) and to live off the land, preferring a naturalistic existence. They much favor Elturgy (and naturalistic Elturgy at that) to technology and craft as the Sidhel and Jukarnians do, and distrust collectivism, urbanization, and a reliance upon groups. They value individualism above all else. They are natural Frontiersmen and of all the Eldevens they breed the fastest, live the hardest, and die the youngest, often by misadventure or sheer love of danger. They are however almost totally immune to most diseases. Of all Eldevens they are the most xenophobic, especially towards Men and Sidh. The Lorahn are possessed of two extremely discriminating senses, the sense of smell and the ability to hear. They can often smell faint odors for leagues, having a sense of smell like a bear. Their hearing is so keen that it rivals or even exceeds that of a wolf. Perhaps because of this the Lorahn find themselves most naturally aligned with the Jukarn when it comes to other Eldevens. Many call them the “Green Folk.” Both because of their naturalistic lifestyle and because they can actually cause their flesh to assume a bluish or tan or greenish hue in order to blend into their environments.
Ghêriel also named by men the Gnössom, or Gnömso – a subrace distantly related to the Sidh but much smaller in physical size. Like the Lorahn they prefer to keep to themselves but they are also master craftsmen and builders of small and complicated artifacts. Known for their enormously sensitive and discerning sense of touch. They are also known for being crafty, cunning, hidden, and secretive by nature. The Gheriel folk often produce geniuses of various types. These geniuses however tend to be loners who prefer to work by themselves. A small percentage of Gheriel are born blind yet nevertheless their skin and other senses become so sensitive that they naturally possess a gnosense which gives them an uncanny ability to both understand how things work and to perceive things others cannot. The Gheriel are said by some (although they keep such things secrets among themselves) to be the longest lived of all the Eldeven peoples with some living to be over 1500 years old. Many call them the “Sharp Folk,” or the “Secret Folk.” Some name them the “Gold Folk,” because as they age their skin takes on a peculiar golden hue. It is said by some that right before a Gheriel dies he will turn the color of purified gold.
Avafał also named by men the Eladruin – a Race (the New Ones or the Fallen Ones) or sub-race (depending upon your point of view) that occurs when some member of the Eldeven Race mates and produces an off-spring with some member of a Human Race. Extremely rare as most such matings produce no offspring and even when such a mating is successful the child often does not survive into adulthood. Those that do survive often become extremely wise and trusted advisors and explorers possessing keen senses and a deep curiosity, an active mind, and a restless and searching spirit. They also tend to be a good and noble mixture of the more positive traits of their parents. They are sometimes called the “Gray Folk,” or the “Twilight Folk.” However some Avafal become Balkar or Fallen Ones, bitter outcasts and wanderers, hating and eschewing one parent or another, or both, with a tendency towards lifelong hatred and a desire for vengeance against the people of one parent or another for what they perceive as the supposed injustice of their birth and life.
Maştur – known as the “Black Eldevens,” or the “Dark-Haired Elds” even though their skin tends to be very pale to almost albino white or sun-burned reddish in color. Their hair however is usually as jet black as their eyes, the tips of their ears, and the palms of their hands. Unlike the Sidh who tend to usually be near man-sized, or the Jukarn who tend to be short, the Mastur appear in a wide range of heights and sizes, from almost seven feet tall near giants to short four to five foot tall individuals. The Mastur long ago separated themselves from the other Eldeven peoples of their world, taking to the Sea, hence their other nickname, “The Sea-Farers.” Eventually they settled in a single large colony (with nearby smaller colonies) near the North Pole. Some actually live in hollowed out glaciers as hermits and it is also said that the Mastur either discovered a long abandoned and dead city in the arctic that had been built by a vanished race (possibly the Orasta) or that they built their own Capital city and port deep beneath a huge ice-sheet in the Frozen Sea of Ilkfriģ. It is not known whether or not either story is true or merely legend. It is also said that in the arctic that the Mastur discovered a strange form of magic or a weird artefact which gave them control over a weird form of magic they call Ylturgy, or Ulturgy. It is also not known whether or not this rumor has any basis in fact.
Farmarhlýan – Long before the Skëma (the Great Sundering that led to the various races of the Eldeven Folk) there was another group of the Eldeven peoples. The Sire and leader of these Eldevens, Farmarhl, one day stood before all of the gathered Eldeven peoples and said that he had received a Vision and a Dream that told him he must journey East with his people, to follow a Giant Silvered Stag to some new and unknown land. Few believed him until three days later when a giant silvered stag actually did appear and presented itself before Farmarhl. The stag was wild and would allow no one else to touch it except Farmarhl. Farmarhl named it the Yärnalaös, or Yärn (Stag) of the Dawn, and within a week he and his people were following it into the East. For seven years Farmarhl sent riders and messages back to the other Eldevens regarding his people’s progress but in eighth year all messages stopped and no more messengers appeared. The Farmarhlyan have never been heard from again, not in thousands and thousands of years, and no trace of them has since been discovered. They are now only remembered in song and lore and in a few brief and ancient copies of some of their early messages. Some call them the “Lost Folk,” and the “People of the Unseen Dawn.”
Adhařma Race also named by men the Anakös or Yettin – A race of powerful demi-giants who are excellent engineers and architects. These giants are known as the greatest builders on their world and the Eldevens (especially the Sidhel and the Jukarn) often contract with them to build their cities. The Adharmenes are highly intelligent but rather short lived compared to the Eldevens. This race may live to 75 or 80 years before succumbing to death. They also tend to suffer many health problems throughout life (probably due to their size) though they also tend to be enormously tough and immensely strong. However they are often susceptible to disease and injury, taking longer than most other peoples to heal. For this reason the Adharma invented the Harmindir (the Healing Hall) and have become expert healers and physicians. The Adharma practically built the Capital (and many say greatest) City of the Sidh, Samarkand. The Adharma also seem to share an odd an affectionate bond with the Gheriel, despite their enormous differences in size and longevity. They are sometimes called the Keldthŗengs (Walking Towers).
Gabraen Race – also known as the Ekronëv or Renown Ones. This race is a half-brother race to the Adharmenes and although only slightly taller and more bulky than humans they also seem to possess enormous and almost preternatural strength similar to that of the Adharma. Hairy and muscular many consider them coarse in appearance and ungainly in nature. Especially compared to the Sidh and the Lorahn who are considered attractive in appearance and graceful in motion. They are most renowned though for being physically fearless, incredibly tough, and enormously skillful hunters. They are not particularly susceptible to disease and injury but they are a violent and aggressive and forthright race and often die young and in combat. They are however master and spellbinding storytellers and well versed in song and music. Generally though they are disliked by the Eldeven peoples, whereas the Adharma are often admired by and friendly with the Sidh and Jukarn and Gheriel. The Gabraen typically tend to live only to be about 50 years old, and will tolerate the company only of the Adharma, the Lorahn, and some men. The Gabraen as a whole seem to be an outcast race, and to consider themselves as such.
Orasta (the Dawn People) Race – A lost race about whom not much is known except for the ruins of their high and bloody and brutal culture. They were said to have at one time been great explorers and colonizers having explored much of “the Old World,” before the Great Remaking or High Reforging of Iÿarlðma. What eventually happened to them or how they may have been destroyed no one is really sure and even the oldest legends and myths fail to mention their final fate. But not a single body or tomb of their dead has ever been uncovered. Many among the Sidh believe that the Orasta were the nascent forebears of the Eldeven races or that they never actually vanished, but opinions on the matter are hotly debated and disputed. The Jukarn say they were a wholly evil race and the Adharma greatly fear the ruins of the Orasta but will not say why. The Orasta are also called the Meilorein Race (Lost or Invisible Ones) by the Sidh.
There are also other obscure and vanished races of Iÿarlðma but little to nothing is actually known of their true natures and cultures by the Eldevens or by Men.
Because the plot, story, and terminology of my novel series (The Other World – the Kithariãd) has become so complicated and involved over time I have begun the construction of a Lexicon so that I and my readers may track all of the various languages, neologisms, and terms I have invented for the novels.
It will eventually include all of the arcane and neologistic and specialty terms I use or have invented in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and English as well, but for now I am only compiling those terms I have invented for the various Eldeven languages used in the book.
At this point it runs to 20 pages or so, but I expect it to grow significantly over time and I have yet to alphabetize the lexicon for ease of use. A hard chore but a necessary one.
Eventually I expect this Lexicon to be to my mythopoeiac works something like Alfred the Great’s lexiconographical works were to the Real World.