THE VIPER

THE VIPER (first draft of scene)

Maugham walked back over to Steinthal.

Steinthal asked him, “Who is that?”

Maugham was uncharacteristically blunt, and voluble.

“That is the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my life,” he told him.

Steinthal almost flinched. He had never met anyone tougher than Maugham and wasn’t much sure he liked the idea.

“Also,” Maugham went on almost to the point of being prolix (for him anyway), “he is meaner than hell and he may even be your equal in cunning and craft.”

Steinthal whistled appreciatively, just barely above the whisp of a dog-whistle. He looked hard at the man Maugham had just been conversing with when suddenly the guy looked over at him. Had he heard Steinthal’s whistle? Steinthal wondered if that was even possible.

The guy rose up from his table and just stood there, unmoving. Was he waiting, just watching, or coiling? He was short, shorter than Steinthal, and wiry, with cords of muscles that stood out up and down his neck. He had a couple of facial scars, one a long straight slice and the other maybe a burn, and sported a multiply broken nose and the look of a man who had been stabbed a few times to the point of aggravation.

He was dressed so that you couldn’t tell if he was a day laborer or an informant. Or both. His clothes looked washed out, as if they could fade smoothly into the backgorund, and like they didn’t quite fit. Or he did. Or both. He carried himself as if he could have been concealing no weapons, or any number of them.

He looked directly at Steinthal and he smiled, only it wasn’t really a smile. It was more like when a snake’s jaw unhinges and its flat lips curl back to swallow something. Steinthal wasn’t really sure if that was for his benefit alone, or just directed at the world in general, but whatever the intent it was threatening, and patiently sibilant – all at once. And about as creepy and surreal a disposition to strike as possible for anything shaped like a man.

Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at him.

“Do you know this guy?” Steitnhal asked.

“Yeah,” Maugham said, in his typically taciturn manner.

“Know him well?” Steinthal asked again.

“Well enough,” Maugham replied.

“How?” Steinthal said seriously, more in the way of an interrogation than a friendly question.

Maugham shook his head like a bull being called in from the field. Steinthal knew that that meant and just nodded.

“Anything else?”

“Yeah,” said Maugham. “When we first met I thought you might be related.”

Steinthal furrowed his brow. Steinthal raised his hand horizontally so that his forefinger pointed at Maugham and his thumb pointed back at himself.

“You thought we might be related?”

“No,” Maugham said flatly. “I thought that you two might be related. Why I didn’t kill you immediately.”

“You didn’t kill me because you happen to like this guy?” Steinthal asked, fishing for the reason.

“No,” Maugham said shaking his head as if the question were silly and somehow self-negating. “I didn’t kill you because if you two were related then I wasn’t absolutely sure I could.”

Steinthal nodded, accepting the comment, but was doubtful that was the whole story. It was Maugham though, so what could ya really do?

Then Steinthal looked back over at the stranger. For all he knew the guy was still breathing, but if he was then he showed no signs.
Inside his own mind Steinthal shook his head while watching the guy, but as far as anyone else knew he just stared silently at the stranger.

“Why’d you set this up Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Couldn’t have been easy to get him to play along.”

“He’s not playing,” Maugham replied. “And no, it wasn’t. But I thought that maybe, just this once, we could use him.”

Inside his own mind Steinthal nodded, but to Maugham he shook his head so that no one else would notice.

“So,” Steinthal asked. “What do I call it?”

“You don’t,” Maugham answered. And it didn’t seem contrived at all.

“Well then, should I approach it, or let it approach me?”

“Yes,” Maugham said. “That should work.”

Steinthal nodded still intently studying the other man.

“Well then,” Steinthal finally said. “Best clear the room. If we’re gonna see what happens.”

But when Maugham made no reply, and Steinthal glanced over to check on him, Maugham was already gone. And when he turned back to look for the other guy the other guy was already in his face.

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NOT THE REASON I SHOULD CARE

NOT THE REASON I SHOULD CARE

Steinthal looked at the picture. Then he handed it back to Williams.

“What do you want me to do?” Steinthal asked.

“Shadow him,” Williams replied. Steinthal almost laughed at the term then caught himself. Curiosity got the better of humor.

“Maybe I can do it, but who is he, and why would I track him?” Steinthal said.

Williams blinked.

“You don’t recognize him?” Williams seemed truly dumbfounded.

“Why would I recognize him?” Steinthal said flatly. “I’ve never met him or seen him before.”

“But that’s Dale J. Soggs,” Williams responded.

Williams waited to see if the name would have an effect but when it didn’t he tried again.

“He’s the football player! First draft two years ago. Very first first draft,” Williams said.

Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at Steinthal and then Maugham casually shrugged his shoulders.

Steinthal looked back at Williams and then, unable to contain HIMSELF anymore, laughed out loud. When he stopped laughing he scratched his neck and shook his head.

“Williams, what do I give a shit if he plays football?” Steinthal replied. “Is that supposed to be your pitch to me? You think I have nothing better to do with my time than watch fucking football? I’m a grown man Williams, not a little school girl. Look at Maugham Williams. You think he’s got nothing more important to do with his time than watch fucking football? You think he’s never done anything more dangerous than fucking football?”

Williams looked up at Maugham. He towered over them both.

“You don’t watch football either?” he asked Maugham. “Guy like you? Big as you are?”

Maugham looked down at Williams, smiled thinly, and shook his head dismissively. Then he went back to chewing his gum.

Williams looked back at Steinthal who was still waiting for a reply to his question. Williams still seemed confused so Steinthal backtracked.

“I didn’t ask you what he did Williams, if you can call that doing something. I asked you who he was and why you want him surveilled. Now who is he that you need him watched? And don’t give me any bullshit about him being a football player because I don’t give a shit. In case you missed it I don’t watch fucking football. And if this is about football then you’re killing your time and my interest. Now who is the man that you want him followed, and why?”

Williams looked stunned, then shook his head and exhaled loudly. He seemed to deflate as he did so.

“They said you’d be just like this,” he finally said.

“Like what?” Steinthal asked almost disinterestedly.

“Straight to the point,” Williams answered.

Steinthal ran his hand through his beard.

“Look, you want a play-runner or a ballet dancer then get another football player to chaperone him around. They can take notes on him, carry his little athletic bag, scrub his cleats, and type up his itinerary. Maybe take him to his pedicure or his oil bath where he can meet his side-chick. Assuming that’s what you’re after. But if I’m going to follow the man then I’m going to know exactly who and what he is and why he actually needs to be followed. Get me?” Steinthal said.

Williams blinked, then nodded. It was completely silent for a moment, except for someone vacuuming up at the far end of the hall.

“Now Williams, now,” Steinthal said. “I’m not here for the psychoanalysis and the ambiance.”

Williams blinked again and cleared his throat.

“We think he,” the team rep began. “Well, we’re not sure, you see, but we think he could be, maybe, a foreign agent,” Williams finally admitted.

This time Steinthal blinked.

“A football player?” Steinthal asked incredulously.

“Well, it’s just that, you see…” Williams answered, but Steinthal set his jaw and shook his head for silence. Then he ran his hand through his beard again, scratched his chin, nodded, and motioned to Maugham. Both men turned and walked towards the door.

Surprised Williams watched them reach the door before he thought to respond.

“Wait a second?” he blurted out. “Are you gonna do it? Will you follow him for us?”
Steinthal stopped at the door and turned to Williams.

“We will,” Steinthal replied.

“Well,” Williams continued confused. “Don’t you want any details on the man? Like where he lives, what he drives, that kind of thing…”

“No, I don’t,” Steinthal replied. “I’ll gather my own intel, and details. Call you in three days.” Then he and Maugham left, walked to the end of the hall, and punched the button for an elevator.

When they were inside and descending Maugham looked at Steinthal.

“Think this is what it appears to be?” he asked his friend.

“Hell no!” replied Steinthal. “No one would.” Maugham smiled.

“Think this Soggs guy might actually be dangerous then?” Maugham asked.

“If he is,” replied Steinthal, “we’ll find out soon enough. But in any case it won’t be because he’s a football player.”

And Maugham nodded and they both laughed.

from The Detective Steinthal

#football #case #foreignagent #writing
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I was working on a sci-fi story last night called, The Seas the Skies, when this scene popped into my head about a new case for Steinthal and Maugham. Something I’ve been thinking of doing anyway given all of the crap hysteria about foreign agents and all of the crap about professional football in our modern society. So I wrote this scene instead. First draft. If you’ll excuse the pun.

I’ll punch out the sci-fi story today after my hike with Sam.

Have a good day folks.

WE’LL WORK ON THAT

WE’LL WORK ON THAT

The place was dark. Very dark, all things considered. The whole house seemed closed off into small compartments. However there was still light streaming in from a full moon by a window to the right of the room.

Precisely why Steinthal had chosen this night. He knew that because of the full moon his night vision equipment could make good use of the available ambient and residual light and he could operate “in the dark” without giving himself away.

Time to put on my googles he thought.

He heard a small creak.

Instinctively he ducked low but something still hit him from behind and from his left. It had struck the top of his shoulder, the backside of his neck and the base of his skull. It was wide whatever it was. And it had only been a glancing blow but Steinthal saw a flash from the impact, heard a ring in his ear, and stumbled forward a few feet. Then as he caught his balance he ran forward another five or six feet and swirled as fast as he could recover.

Someone stood there. A big someone. Big and dark. If it had growled Steinthal might have taken it for a bear. As it was Steinthal thought it might be even more dangerous.

The thing seemed to just pause there as if considering what to do next. Steinthal’s head cleared completely and he started to make for his gun when the shape charged. It came in close almost instantly and surprised Steinthal, not with a jab or a horizontal swing, but with a ferocious right uppercut. Steinthal barely had time to react but twisted some and got his left arm stiffened and intercepted the shot down low. That took most of the punch out but the guy was still so strong that he lifted Steinthal onto the balls of his feet just from the sheer momentum.

Steinthal counterpunched furiously with his right. Hit the guy solidly on the left side of the front of his neck. It should have rocked the guy on his heels, caused him to splutter and choke. He hadn’t hit the trachea but it still would have stunned most men.

As it was the only two things that seemed to happen as far as Steinthal could tell was that it made a sound like the guy had been hit with a wet fish, and the man stepped back one step. He hadn’t even bent over.

Realizing fully what he was now facing, Steinthal swiftly backtracked three or four feet and grabbed his revolver with his right and his combat knife with his left. He had only glanced down for an instance to retrieve his weapons but when he looked up the guy already had a semiautomatic in one hand and a shiny machete in the other. Where the machete had come from Steinthal had no idea but it did impress him.

The guy was now closer to the moonlight. You could partially make him out. Steinthal decided he wasn’t big after all. He was monstrous. But he didn’t look stupid. No, there was a kind of set to his face and a sort of light in his eyes that Steinthal took for real and raw intelligence. Even more dangerous.

There were several moments of tense silence while they pointed their weapons at each other.

“That kind of hurt for such a little fella,” the big guy suddenly said and spit. There might have been some blood mixed in but it was too dark to tell. “What’s your name?”

“Huh?” Steinthal said.

“I said, ‘what’s your name.’ I don’t like having to repeat myself.”

Steinthal cleared his throat.

“John,” he replied. “But most everyone calls me Steinthal.”

The guy seemed to mull over the answer.

“Yeah, you’re the one,” he said as if mentally verifying a fact-sheet.

“What one?” Steinthal asked.

“The one I’m meant to kill tonight,” the big guy said.

“Well then,” Steinthal said. “You’re one up on me. I usually know nothing about most of the people I kill until it is all over.
“Why is that?” the big guy asked.

“Because they tend to ambush me,” replied Steinthal.

The big guy chuckled quietly.

“Well then, are you going to shoot me?” he asked.

“I’d rather not,” Steinthal said warily. “But at this point anything seems possible.”

Seemingly to spite himself the big guy chuckled again.

“I like you.” The big guy said. “You’re funny.”

“Trust me,” Steinthal said. “I’m not trying to be, but if helps any then let’s just go with that.”

The big guy seemed blithe. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to snap your neck, but now I sort of like you.”

Steinthal noticed that despite the relaxed and easy going tone of the man’s voice his aim had remained absolutely fixed and his breathing so steady that he seemed motionless. Even while he spoke.

“Yeah, well,” said Steinthal “We all do what we can.”

The guy laughed again. If not for the circumstances then to Steinthal this would have seemed ridiculous.

When the guy finished laughing he said, “Seems kind of a shame now though.”

“Don’t it,” said Steinthal. “But, you know, the guns and all…”

The big guy looked at Steinthal’s revolver.

“I’ve been shot before you know,” he said. “By a lot bigger and more powerful weapons than that. Never killed me.”

“I’ll bet,” said Steinthal. “But there’s always that first time. And I’m pretty damned determined.”

“Also I’m armored,” said the big guy, as if he hadn’t noticed Steinthal’s reply.

“Thanks for the heads up,” said Steinthal. “Now I know where not to aim.”

There was silence again. But no movement.

“Say,” Steinthal finally said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the distinct feeling you’re not just playing for time here. Do you get the idea that there might be something else going on with this whole affair that neither of us are quite square on? And that maybe we should skip the strangulations and compare notes about in private?”

More silence. But then the big guy shrugged nonchalantly and holstered his gun. It kind of disappeared entirely into the huge black mound that was his chest. But the machete remained. And the guy had never even shifted his gaze.

“Maybe… Probably… Yes. I’ve had that idea for some time now,” he said. “But I didn’t want to make any snap judgements.”

“Yeah,” Steinthal said. “It’s one of the things I appreciate most about you.”

“People think I’m stupid, you know. Because I’m so big,” the big guy said. With a kind of sad resignation that seemed almost fatalistic.

“Well fella,” said Steinthal. “I’m not most people. And whereas you are stupefyingly big, you are most definitely not stupid.”

The guy chuckled again. Then sighed softly.

“You going to lower your gun now?” the big guy asked.

“I’m thinking about it, but, you know, I’m not exactly stupid either.”

The machete clattered to the floor.

“Very nice. Now can you do that with your hands, arms, and most of the rest of you as well?”

The guy smiled in the dark. And it seemed completely friendly.

“Probably not. I come this way,” he said.

“Alright then. I’ll just take your word for it.” And Steinthal holstered his gun and knife.

“Say,” Steinthal said relaxing a little. “Since you know so much about me what say you tell me your name?”

“You’ll laugh,” the big guy replied.

“Well, if I do, then don’t take it personally. I have an excellent sense of humor.”

“Okay then. It’s Maugham,” said the big guy. “William Somerset Maugham. But my friends call me Angus.”

Steinthal whistled. “Well I’ll be damned. I’ve read all your books!

“Yeah,” the big guy looked sheepishly at the ground. “My mother was real big on literature.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Steinthal said. “But say, you’re a lot bigger in person than you look in the papers. Or the history books.”

“Yeah, I hear that a lot. Well, not a lot. Not recently anyway. Most people don’t read anymore.”

“Yeah, that’s a real shame, ain’t it? But that being what it is I’m not calling you Angus or Bill either,” Steinthal said.

“Well then, what are you going to call me?”

“I’m gonna call you Maugham,” said Steinthal. “Because you remind me of W. Somerset Maugham. If, you know, he had been as big as a damned Angus.”

Maugham nodded.

“What say though we get outta here now Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Before they send in a troll?”

Maugham shrugged. “Okay. I’m game if you are.”

As they were sneaking out Steinthal said, “Say, what you said back there. Is that true?”

“Is what true?” asked Maugham.

“Do you really have friends?”

Maugham stopped in his tracks and seemed to mull over the question quietly in his mind before replying.

“You know, I’m not really sure.”

“Well,” said Steinthal. “The night is still young. We’ll work at it awhile. Then see what we can come up with. One thing’s for sure though.”

“What’s that?” asked Maugham.

“After tonight I owe you one. If you’ll take friendship as payment then I’ll sure call it square.”

(This is the first meeting between Steinthal and Maugham.)

From The Detective Steinthal.

AND THEN THEY ATE

AND THEN THEY ATE…

“You know what I’ve always loved most about you?” she said reaching for his hand across the table. “You never judged me. You always just accepted me as I am.”

He accepted her hand, and held it gently but shook his head dubiously.

“No, my dear,” he said flatly. “You are entirely wrong on both accounts, and could not be further from the actual truth.”

She withdrew her hand in surprise, a deepening frown creasing her puzzled brow.

“What do you mean?” she said nervously.

“I mean I judged you constantly,” Steinthal said. “I still do. That is what I do. I watch people. I study people. I come to understand a person, and then I judge them. In a brutally honest fashion. I judge everyone this way, including myself. You are certainly no exception to the rule. As a matter of fact there are no exceptions to the rule.”

“Oh,” she said hollowly.

He looked at her intently, staring relentlessly into her face for a moment, and then continued.

“I am no modern man,” he said, as if reading the barometric pressure on a gauge before a storm. “I do not believe in the ‘man without judgment.’ The man without judgment is simply another term for an absolute fool. I am no fool my dear, and when it comes to judgment I attempt to do something far braver and much more vital than avoid judging people, I seek to judge them accurately and in truth.”

She looked down at her plate as if suddenly uncomfortable, or in shame. There was a long pause while she tried to think of what to say. Not knowing how to respond she whispered out loud and to herself,

“What must you think of me then?”

He nodded slightly, though she did not see it. He waited a moment to see if she would say anything else or look up but she did not.

“Since you asked I will tell you precisely what I think of you and how I have judged you,” Steinthal replied, accepting her unintended cue. “I adjudged you in this way. I never accepted you as ‘you were,’ and I will not in the future. Furthermore I judged you not for what you were, but for what I fully suspected you could be. I did not take you for how you appeared, but for how it appeared to me that you could be, if you ever decided you would. And as far as I can see, you did. And did rather well at it. Does that really surprise you?”

She looked up again and stared at Steinthal, but whether more in shock or gratitude neither was certain.

This time he offered his hand across the table.

“I like to think of myself as a very good judge of character,” he told her. “And of potential. I would not waste my time or effort with or upon anyone who did not demonstrate an aptitude for both. So, do not prove me wrong and I shall not have to judge you otherwise. And that will be more than enough for me, assuming it is enough for you.”

She looked into his eyes and could find no hint of guile, or of misdirection. He seemed perfectly sincere. And it occurred to her, maybe for the very first time, just how perfectly sincere he usually was.

She reached back across the table, took his hand, smiled, and said softly, “I think I love you.”

He gently squeezed her hand in reply.

“I am aware of that,” he said.

She kept smiling but sighed with a deep resignation.

“Though you truly can be something of a real bastard.”

“I am aware of that as well,” he said, smiling in return.

Then he dropped her hand and took up his fork. He pointed it at her.

“But how bout we eat now and save the romance for later? After all we have the entire evening, and this meal is hardly the limit of my current ambitions.”

She laughed and took up her own fork.

And then they ate.

from The Detective Steinthal

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Note: this was not the scene I had intended to write tonight, but my router blew out and that delayed me working on the other scene and since this one seemed to flow kinda nicely I just worked it instead.

WHY WOULD HE?

WHY WOULD HE?

“I should think the answer would be self-evident, even to you. Why would I wish to have adventures only in my mind when I should have them with my body and soul as well? In his own mind a man is always but an unchallenged and untested king upon an imaginary golden throne of plenty. But to thrive in the world about him he must be something far greater, far more cunning, more dangerous, and far more wise – a Wizard of Many Things.”

Alternaeus the Wizard

(from The Wizard and the Wyrdpack)

ONLY GREAT NEED – THE KITHARIUNE

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)

YEAH, SO EXACTLY HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

YEAH, SO EXACTLY HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

“It’s a question of precisely what is the most ethical possible practice,” Termkin said, apparently annoyed by Steinthal’s relentless and unswerving line of inquiry.

Steinthal stared at him intently, but unreadably.

“Is it?” asked Steinthal.

Termkin seemed puzzled by the question.

“What do you mean?” Termkin said.

“See,” said Steinthal twirling the brim of his hat in his hand, “that’s where I think we both know you’re wrong.”

Termkin furrowed his brow, his expression a mixture of ongoing annoyance and a genuine struggle to understand.

“I still don’t perceive your exact meaning?”

“No, I don’t think you do,” said Steinthal. “And I really didn’t expect that you could. But let me simplify the matter for you. You see I have this theory that everything is always really about morality. And that ethics is just something that lawyers and other no count types like you employ as a cheap legal substitute.”

Termkin seemed to follow Steinthal’s explanation at a slightly slower pace than it had been enunciated. But when he finally caught up he suddenly flushed red and showed his ire.

“Why you smart mouthed son of a bitch!”

Steinthal laughed good humoredly.

“Probably,” he said. “But I noticed you didn’t bother to refute me.”

Termkin mulled on that for a moment before his snappy comeback finally came to him.

“Oh yeah, well exactly how is one supposed to refute you smartass types?” Termkin demanded. “You think you’re always right.”

Steinthal stood up and put his hat on his head. He smiled to himself as if Termkin wasn’t even in the room though he was still staring right at him.

“See, that’s the part about this whole thing that’s easiest to resolve,” said Steinthal. “We are always right. Even when no one else knows it yet. Like you. As for the thinking part, well now, if you ever really bothered with that then I presume you could figure it out for yourself.”

Steinthal tipped his hat at Termkin in a peculiar gesture. “But I’m not gonna lay real money on it.”

Steinthal walked across the room, opened the door and then looked back at Termkin.

“I’d like to say it was nice to meet you Termkin. But, we met anyway. So at least we’ll always have that.”

The he left.

Still full of questions, but certain he finally crossed the right man.

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A bit of dialogue involving my Detective Character Steinthal. I didn’t really get a chance to do a Tuesday’s Tale this week. Too busy. So I’m posting this today instead.

My youngest daughter read it and I asked her what she thought of it and she said, “Dad, Steinthal talks pretty much just like you.”

Which made me laugh.

“Yeah, funny how that works, ain’t it?” I told her…

HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE – HAMMER, TONG, AND TOOLS

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)

________________________________________________

Since the beginning of this year I have been in one of the most productive periods/phases of my entire life as far as the creation of poems, songs, short stories, novels, scripts, and other literary works are concerned. I have recently produced hundreds of pages of new works.
 
Above is a section of my novel series the Kithariune. In this passage the Welsh Bard Larmaegeon is trying to explain the difference(s) between High and Low Fortune to his friend and companion, the Spanish Paladin Edimios. And why he should wait upon the one and avoid the other.
 
Anyone is welcome to comment upon it, of course.

CROSSING OVER – HIGHMOOT

CROSS OVER WORK

Lately I have been doing a lot of what I call Cross-Over Work.

In this case I mean by saying that I have been doing a lot of work that cross-fertilizes itself in other works I am simultaneously creating. For instance I might be writing one novel and a particular scene or bit of dialogue I create will inspire another scene or piece of dialogue in another book or novel I am working on.

Though such things are not necessarily related to or limited to my various fiction writings. I might be drawing a map or making a sketch, designing something, working on a start-up project, developing an invention, writing a poem or song lyrics, or writing a novel or a non-fiction book and all of these things, or others, might give me an idea for another work I’m currently pursuing.

So today, and below (and in allusion to my previous post on actors), I am posting some of my latest Cross-Over Work. Little vignettes, or to be more accurate, often just little snippets (bits of dialogue, sections of scenes, sketch notes, etc.) of various Works I am creating and pursuing at this time.

Does your Work cross over in this way, from one work to another?

If so then feel free to comment below.

___________________________________________

 

NOT A FAIR FIGHT

“Again I don’t get it. Take one shot at your actual target and three at yourself… don’t seem like much of a fair fight to me.”

From my Western The Lettered Men

 

A CLUE

“Not every possibility is true, that’s certainly true, but every possibility is always a clue – to something other than itself. If you keep forgetting that then it’s very possible the Truth will entirely escape you. And if it does then what other possibilities really matter?”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

TRUE DARKNESS

“True darkness obscures. Few things can thrive in perpetual shade but those things that can definitely always wish to remain hidden. That is, until they are ready to be discovered. For reasons of their own.”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

ALWAYS BEST

“It is always best to hunt in silence.”

The Detective Steinthal

 

YOUR TRAINING IS OVER

“What are you training for kid? To train forever? Now who wants that kinda shit anyway? Only officers and politicians, that’s who. No, you get your ass in the fight. You’ve trained long enough. Time to be somebody.”

From Snyder’s Spiders

 

IT BLEEDS

“And how now is your wound?”

“It itches fiercely, it hurts mightily, it swells darkly, but it bleeds freely and cleanly. It is good that it bleeds so and thus I will not complain of the other things. But if you have any more of that strange brew you drink then I will not complain of a skin full of that either.”

“I have not a skin, but I can manage a cup.”

“Then so can I…”

Suegenius describing to Fhe Fhissegrim the condition of his wound

From my fantasy The Kithariune (The Basilegate)

 

A RARE AND WONDROUS FEAT

“If you cannot stand up to your own old man then you will never stand up to anyone. If you can stand up to your own old man then you can stand up to anyone else, and everyone else.

If your old man ever forces you to rebel against him then do not hate him for it, respect him for it. He has done more for you in that regard, as regards the development of your actual manhood, than any other thing anyone else could ever do for you in the world. That man who forces his son into rebellion has bred a man. You owe such a father an enormous and generous debt.

That father who always insists his son obey him, right or wrong, has bred a mere and helpless and fearful slave. You owe that father your utter disdain and yourself nothing but shame for your own endless submission.

Drink to your father Edomios. Drink long and deep. He has bred a man in you. A man who can stand upright and unafraid. A rare and wondrous feat in our age.

Maybe in any age.”

Marsippius Nicea the Byzantine Commander of the Basilegate explaining to Edomios the Spanish Paladin why he owes his father a debt of manhood

From The Kithariune

 

THAT WAY YOU SPEAK

When Michael first lands in Thaumaturgis he is met by Harmonius Hippostatic
who makes fun of the way he speaks and tries to explain to Michael where he is, and what life is like in the Lands. Michael does not at first speak in verse, but speaks in prose, but as he stays longer and longer in the land of Thaumaturgis he also comes to speak in metered, rhyming verse.

Harmonius: That way you speak, it’s quite a feat
But it will never do,
No meter, rhyme or rhythm,
It’s really quite obtuse.

Michael: Where am I?

Harmonius: Why this is Thaumaturgis,
Don’t you know your lands?
It’s one of the three countries,
Not earth, not stone, not sand.
No one’s ever figured
How it got this way
Tomorrow is the same as now
It’s always been that way.
If want you life miraculous
Or supernatural,
It’s really quite so marvelous
And never, ever dull.
But one thing in this country
You really must avoid
Speaking words in plain old prose
Is what will most annoy,
So put on your best rhyming
Your metered rhythm too
Don’t dally up a worthwhile speech
Without so much ado,
Be mannered in your speaking
Poetic when you talk
Or everyone will soon declare
Your words taste just like chalk

From my children’s book, Three Lands

NOTHING EVER CHANGES – TUESDAY’S TALE

NOTHING EVER CHANGES

“Yeah,” he said. “So I’ve heard tell.”

Maugham sighed, then leaned over with a groan and put his head in his in hands for awhile. He rubbed the top of his head slowly as if to somehow comfort his own mind. But it didn’t seem to work.

When he lifted his head back up he looked at Steinthal.

“Do you think it will ever change?”

Steinthal looked at him and then shrugged wearily.

“I suppose that’s entirely up to the people involved. I only know one thing for sure… and even that’s not much…” and then he fell silent.

Maugham waited but when Steinthal said nothing else he just stood back up. It was obvious he was hurt though, so Stenithal moved over and put his arm under his friend’s and around his back and helped him start to walk again.

“What’s the one thing by the way?” Maugham asked as the men made their way torturously out of the ruined building.

“Oh that,” said Stenthal, as if he had just assumed his friend already knew. “Nothing ever changes much when no one ever much changes.”

So they made their way back to the river, dripping sweat, shedding blood, grunting in pain, and limping as they went.

from The Detective Steinthal

THE TROUBLE WITH YOU – TUESDAY’S TALE

“Personally I have never understood the idea that the herd is so all pervasive that you dare not leave it or the pack so all powerful that you dare not defy it. You don’t like the herd, then go your own way. Plenty of places the herd won’t dare go that you can. The pack turns on you then you turn on it. They’ll even be plenty of times you should turn on the pack when it doesn’t turn on you. That’s life.

See, it’s just a herd son, it’s just a pack. Simple as that.

This ain’t rocket science kid it’s just plain old fashioned manhood. And whenever necessary a man stands absolutely alone and entirely unafraid. But don’t pretend with me what I’m saying is so unbelievable you can’t even imagine it.

You’ve imagined it plenty. You’ve just never had the balls to act like a man about it.

So the trouble ain’t them boy, the trouble has never been them. The trouble is you. I know it, they know it, and you know it. Because the trouble will always be you until it ain’t anymore. And then the real trouble starts.

But at least by then you’ll finally be a man about it.”

From The Detective Steinthal

Steinthal talking to a low level informant and petty criminal. From one of the cases of my Detective Steinthal.

 

KAL-KITHARIUNE – THOUGHTS ON THE END

KAL-KITHARIUNE

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.

THE WORDY WAY – TUESDAY’S TALE

Last night while in bed I decided to write up some new lines for my Western, the Lettered Men.

I’ll do that sometimes right before I go to bed. Got some good stuff done but had to rework some of em this morning. Many of these lines are spoken by Jerimiah Jereds, also known as “Wordy” (the only name his friends call him) because he will either invent words (neologisms) or will twist around old phrases and common sayings in new ways. Wordy sometimes acts as the comic-relief of the novel, which is pretty rough in parts, and sometimes acts as the de-facto Bard of the novel, being a sort of frontier’s poet and cowboy wordsmith.

Now not all of these snippets are by Wordy. But many are.

Anywho I gave my notes to my wife and daughter this morning (before the final rewrites) so that they could look over em and give me their opinion. I heard a lot of loud laughing coming from the kitchen table downstairs as I worked from my office so I reckon I did something right. They both seemed to like what they read.

Also I should not neglect that my mother came down to the house yesterday after lunch and she also reminded me of many of the old sayings and euphemisms of my grandparents and great-grandparents, which were in many ways the inspiration for Wordy.

So here are the final write ups for the Wordy Way. All from my novel The Lettered Men.

_______________________________________________________

“He’d howl like an old hound dog if ya hung him with a new rope.”

_______________________________________________________

“Ain’t really worth mentioning Word.”

“Oh yeah?” said Wordy. “Well half of not really worth mentioning still beats ever bit a nothing all day long. Specially in the middle a nowhere. So let’s just work around with what we got awhile and see where it leads us. Maybe tomorrow it still won’t be worth mentioning, but maybe in a week or two it will be. When we’re sitting our asses by the fire back home.”

________________________________________________________

“You can’t get there from here boys. But if we can just get over to there I bet we can.”

________________________________________________________

“He smells like he smothered a buzzard and kept it in his pants for a keepsake.”

_________________________________________________________

All the boys laughed when they saw him come out of the barbers. All except Wordy. He just stared at Beau for awhile and then he stood up and circled him like a corvus round a scarecrow. “Hmmm-mmm,” he kept humming to himself as he circled.

“Well now, that’s a two bit shave and a haircut iffin I ever seen one,” he finally said. “Way I see it though she still owes ya a dollar in change just to make it even.”

“Dammit!” Beau said testily slapping his hat against his thigh. Dust and hair swirled everywhere. “I told her it didn’t look right to me.”

“Be alright Beau,” Wordy said. “You’re both new at this. She ain’t much of a judge a jug-heads and you ain’t much of a judge a women.”

“Oh, and you is you Wordy sumbitch!” Beau practically yelled.

“I didn’t say that,” said Wordy. “I just seen enough scalpings in my day to know the difference between a brave and a squaw cut.”

The boys all laughed again.

_________________________________________________________

“That whore’s dumber than a plow mule, sure nuff, but she’s still twice as easy to ride. So if you’re gonna plow with her then just cut the reins and let her wander. Save ya both a lotta trouble.”

_________________________________________________________

“He drunk up the sea and spit out Achilles.” (Wordy describing a cowboy that rode into town, got drunk, and started shooting and fighting.)

_________________________________________________________

“He’s a one mare man. True enough. But he’ll go for any stallion what ain’t tied down.”

_________________________________________________________

“Book learning ruined him for anything worth knowin. I wouldn’t trust him none.”

_________________________________________________________

“The mare’s the better horse. He ain’t worth bad oats and barn rats.”

_________________________________________________________

“There ain’t another man like him in the whole lot. Thank God. Can you imagine a whole herd a dem sumbitches?”

_________________________________________________________

“She’s got a face like a sty-sow. But he’s a pot-bellied pig so who cares who slops who?”

_________________________________________________________

“Ride her at your own peril kid. But don’t dismount till ya broke her.”

_________________________________________________________

“Why, do you think she’ll foal on me?” he asked.

“Probably not,” said Wordy, “but she’s so rough you might.”

__________________________________________________________

“Boy’s so slow that he’d hav’ta ride as hard as he could for a month just ta reach the county line.”

__________________________________________________________

“Man knifed three Comanches and a Texas Ranger,” Sole said, “and lived to tell it. So you might just wanna shoot him. In the head. From behind. While he’s sleepin.”

__________________________________________________________

“Maybe he’s just shot so many men by now that he’s plum forgot how to miss. Ever think a that?”

__________________________________________________________

“Man smells like a Mississippi pole-cat, but he tracks like an Arkansas wild dog. Just make sure to keep him downwind and you’ll run em all to ground.”

__________________________________________________________

“He’s slicker than a cold-creek water snake, but not near as warm-blooded. So keep him ahead of ya, but always in sight. Safe plays are always the safest.”

__________________________________________________________

“Sir, your coffee tastes like chickpeas and boll-weevils. Without the chickpeas.”

__________________________________________________________

“Damn Word! It smells like you shit a dead possum and then lit it on fire with pine tar!”

“Yeah,” Wordy said. “I ain’t feeling too well right now.”

“Fine,” Mason said. “But did ya have to spread it around to everybody else like that? You made the local skunks puke.”

Hart Thomas snorted, spit out his chaw, and then laughed out loud.

“Hell Hart,” Mason said, “you was the skunk I was referring to!”

__________________________________________________________

“He’s cotton-brained and toe-headed. You walk a mile in his moccasins and you’ll end up Boot-hilled.”

__________________________________________________________

“Oh, he went to war alright. He just never met a battle worth sitting through or a man his equal at a foot chase.”

__________________________________________________________

“Ah hell Bill, iffin you gave him a new bull and three pregnant cows then in five years time he’d still be a sheep farmer.”

 

Hope you enjoyed em…

 

YESTERDAY – TUESDAY’S TALE

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 – FIRST VERSE

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
Formorian chants
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)
Formorian chants
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…

20 NOVEL STORYBOARDS TO FOLLOW

20 NOVEL STORYBOARDS YOU SHOULD BE FOLLOWING

20 Novel Storyboards

Ah, Pinterest, you are both the bane and joy of writers the world over. On one hand we can use Pinterest to create stunning visual representations of the world we are creating with our words. On the other hand, we can distract ourselves for hours at a time in the endless sea of images.

But to me the price is worth it. There’s nothing I love more than creating storyboards for my novels. It’s in integral part of my creative process.

I also love following other writer’s on Pinterest, and glimpsing into the worlds they have created. Not only do other author’s boards inspire me and spark ideas, but I often find the perfect image on another writer’s board. (After hours of using the Pinterest search option to no avail.) We writer’s think in the same dramatic way. We’re drawn to the same types of photographs.

So I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite Pinterest storyboards. All of these are beautiful and inspiring. I’m mostly drawn to the historical, romantic, and dramatic, so that’s what most of these boards represent.

While you’re here please leave a link to your book’s storyboard in the comments!

Don’t have a novel storyboard?

No worries, these boards will be all the inspiration you need.

https://www.pinterest.com/bonaventier/the-good-adventurers-storyboard/

https://www.pinterest.com/justlaina/faith-storyboard/

https://www.pinterest.com/highlyblissed/novel-the-mists-of-bellicent-bay/

https://www.pinterest.com/liathaven/storyboard-revenant/

https://www.pinterest.com/rhpottery/storyboard-raven-hill/

https://www.pinterest.com/jasmoon/storyboard-calageata-ii/

https://www.pinterest.com/liathaven/storyboard-the-ones-who-leave/

 https://www.pinterest.com/greywintersong/storyboard-last-summer/

http://www.pinterest.com/highlyblissed/dharma-and-desire-my-novel/

https://www.pinterest.com/rhpottery/storyboard-emily-rose/

http://www.pinterest.com/brennach/storyboard-chief-king/

http://www.pinterest.com/nessacakes52/novel-storyboard-untitled/

https://www.pinterest.com/Lilyjenness/storyboard-noxumbra-manor/

https://www.pinterest.com/moraduial/storyboard-last-ones-standing/

https://www.pinterest.com/jasmoon/storyboard-the-butterfly-bridge-inspiring-imagery/

https://www.pinterest.com/bethgadar/novel-noir/

https://www.pinterest.com/ninthmoriarty/storyboard-kingmaker-ap/

https://www.pinterest.com/sarahallstein/storyboard-the-wanderers/

https://www.pinterest.com/fullnessofjoy16/the-crown-of-life-storyboard/

 

ACCIDENTS AND HAPPENSTANCE

“So, you think I lived this long purely by accident and happenstance, do ya?” Steinthal said, more statement than question.

He thought about that a moment.

“Well then, since you’re the Detective and have already figured it all out, enlighten me. How did you live this long?” he asked.

“I’ve lived this long because I give only one warning and take only one warning. I suppose this qualifies as your one warning,” Steinthal replied.

“Maybe,” he said looking up at Steinthal and smiling, “but just out of curiosity, what comes after your warning?” he asked.

“Who says I’m giving you a warning? I almost never give warnings. The next time you see me, trust me, you won’t.” And Steinthal didn’t smile.

The Detective Steinthal

 

 

HIGH ILLUSION from THE BASILEGATE

Alatha moved towards Marsippius as he rose. He was naked in the firelight.

When she reached him she examined him closely. Then she took her finger and began to lightly trace some of the many imperfections in his flesh.

“You have been often wounded?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she questioned.

“Duty,” he replied wearily. “Duty and manhood.”

“It is manhood to be often wounded?”

“In part,” he said flatly. “Any man without scars is no man at all.”

She stared into his eyes. They were dark like hers. Deep Greek eyes, full of inquiry. Proud Roman eyes, full of purpose. But to him her eyes were inscrutable.

“Perhaps,” she said quietly, “a man should be more than his scars.”

He reached up and took her hand, the finger of which still lingered upon the long jagged white line of an old wound on his chest. The wound of a much younger man.

“Perhaps,” Marsippius replied, “you are very wise among your kind.”

He glanced at the fire. To him the flames in the hearth seemed to burn immensely hot, yet almost entirely silent. He wondered if the fuel of this world burned differently.

When he looked back at Alatha she was once again staring deeply into his eyes. But once again he could not read her mind. He started to move forward to kiss her and then thought better of it.

She did not. Seeing his intent she moved forward and kissed him warmly upon the lips.

Then she leaned back slightly and traced her finger gently across the lips she had just kissed.

“There seem to be no scars here,” she said.

“Illusion,” he said. “There are too many to count. They are nothing but scars. So they seem untouched. Yet…” he added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, “there is room still for a few more, if you so wish.”

She laughed quietly.

“What is wish but High Illusion?” she whispered. So she pressed against him and kissed him again.

 

__________________________________________________

A scene from my novel The Basilegate.

STILL NO JOY – TUESDAY’S TALE

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:
  1. The Main Character or Person – Jhonarlk, or Prester John
  2. 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
  3. The Weirding Roads (central to the story and implying much, much bigger things than simply a Road between worlds)
  4. (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)

THE NECESSARY TRUTH – HIGHMOOT

“The necessary Truth about them is that, in the end, all modern men will do exactly as they are told, but not a one of them will ever do what is truly necessary.”

From: The Curae

ARE YOU NECESSITY? – TUESDAY’S TALE

ARE YOU NECESSITY?

 

He stood up all wrong to be neighborly.

I looked up at him with a pacific expression to give him a chance to reconsider but he didn’t seem particular to my gentlemanly solicitations. So I followed suit by rising to my feet and placing my hand on the handle of my longknife.

“You know, maybe its age, or maybe its wisdom,” I explained. “Hell, I don’t know, could be a little bit of both at this point I reckon. But I’ve learned over time boy not to push myself any harder than I can stand at any given time, or to act more recklessly than I can endure at any given moment. Unless, of course, necessity dictates elsewise.

So the question I got for you son is this right here: ‘Are you necessity? Do you think of yourself as truly necessary?’

‘Cause iffin you do then I’m certainly prepared to listen to ya proposition, if you’re prepared for my considered reply.”

When he suddenly seemed uncertain and wavering in his deliberations I swung the table out from between us and took to hitting him as hard in the mouth as either one of us could stand. Until he wasn’t no more.

Then I stepped on his face turning it sideways and put the cold, clean, sharp tip of my longknife into his earhole.

“Can you make out precisely what I’m saying to ya now kid, or do I gotta keep pushing my point?”

 

From my Western: the Lettermen

THE MONSTER IS – THE HIGHMOOT

The monster is and always will be exactly as big as you allow it to become before you kill it.”

Rhorric of Cappadocia (the Vigilante) to Marsippius Nicea (the Byzantine Commander of the Basilegate) on what is to come.

Or, put another way, the Old Man tells the Young Man how it always really is…

NOT A CONCERN – BOOKENDS

“You know, you’re not the first to react this way. A great many people seem very frightened by the fact that I am not frightened. However I am not in the least frightened by the fact that they are frightened by that. As a matter of fact it greatly encourages me when I meet people like you.

You’d be really frightened if you knew just how much.

Steinthal (The Detective)

GOOD LORD, I DID IT

I’ve been having to spend a lot of time on the internet this past weekend, yesterday, and today (time I would have rather spent doing other things, but this was necessary) rearranging the work on my literary blog so as to make it easier for agents, publishers, business partners, investors, etc. to locate my work in a single locale.

I did have my stuff scattered about on various “categories” on my blog(s) but that was apparently making it hard for agents and others to review my stuff. So on each blog I created a new category entitled: MY WRITINGS AND WORK

Now anyone can find anything I have created, written, or posted on my blogsites with a single click. This should be much, much more efficient and useful.

But it has been hard work to go back through all of my old posts, locate my work, and collate it into a single on-line collection.

So it has taken days (literally) of search, edit, and reorganize. But I’m halfway done with Wyrdwend, my literary blog, and as of now my new category/collection contains 88 pieces of my work. Including such things as my short stories, poetry, children’s stories, children’s books, songs, invention sketches, business articles, criticisms, scripts, graphic novels, essays, novel extracts, game designs, etc.

Whatever I have so far put up.

I figure when I finally finish with my archives by the end of the week the category/collection/link will contain about 160 or so pieces of original work.

Once that is done I’ll do the same for all of my other blogs, including Launch Port, Tome and Tomb, and the Missal.

By the way here is the collection link: MY WRITINGS AND WORK

THE IRON GATE: PART ONE – BOOKENDS

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 – HIGHMOOT

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 ALLUSIONS OF THE OTHER WORLD

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
Beowulf
Book of the Fallen
Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock
Harry Potter, JK Rowling
Icelandic Sagas
Jonathan Strnage and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Kalevala
Le Morte De Arthur, Tennyson
Lyonesse, Jack Vance
Oz Books, Frank Baum
Siegfried
Shakespeare: Henry the IVth, and MacBeth
The Gospels
The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Song of Roland
The Torah
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.”

THE HARD STUFF from THE LETTERMEN

“Sometimes kid the well really does run dry. And when that happens there ain’t no sense in pumpin the handle til your palm bleeds or in dipping in a different bucket.

You just let the well fill fast as the well will fill.

The Truth of it is that everything else is purty much beyond your powers of persuasion anyhow. That’s just the way it works in this world. Learn that and even the hard stuff will likely soften after awhile. Even if it don’t, you will.”

From my Western, the Lettermen

A MAN OF COURAGE from THE LETTERMEN

“Monk, I don’t expect there’s a man of honor among us. That ain’t even the question the way I sees it.

The question is, ‘Is there a man of courage among us?’

Cause if we got that much we at least got a chance. Otherwise all this whining and moaning and bitching and complaining don’t mean shit to me. And it won’t mean shit to the rest of the world neither.

Eventually every man has gotta decide for himself, “Am I talking my manhood up, or am I just talking it away?'”

An argument among the Lettermen concerning what really makes a difference in this world.

A MAN FIT FOR LIVING

A MAN FIT FOR LIVING

A man fit for living and bound to no thing
Of Grasslands and Dark Earth and Bright Skies he sings
The High Hawks in Heaven his oracles are
The Moon is his Mistress, his Companions the Stars
His axe on his shoulder, hammer in hand
He cuts down the dead things and builds up the land
Plowed earth and clear fields, rivers that teem
Hills built by his hands to climb as he sings
A man fit for living, unbound and set free
Grown from the Good Earth, as tall as the trees,
The beasts of the wild fields all flock to his call
He waters and feeds them, none bound to his thrall
The sun fixed at High Noon, the air full and fresh
He wanders the forests, warm in his flesh
He eats when he hungers, he drinks when he thirsts
Nothing he covets, in nothing finds dearth
Would that all Men in just manner could bring
Forth such a Man Fit for Living, in himself everything

 

Today, when Sam (my Great Dane) and I (and Erika, one of my cats followed us) went for our morning walk in the woods the above lines came to me. I ran it through my head as a song, singing it to myself in order to memorize it until I could get back to the house. I’ll finished it later today, after munch

I may let it stand alone, put in in my new book of poetry, or use this in one of my novels, like The Caerkara. Right now I’m leaning towards putting it in the Caerkara.

THE HEART WILL ROAM from THE ENDLESS FRONTIER

“Son, the heart will roam where the heart will roam. It may have no worthwhile destination at all, yet still it will attempt the journey. And if it thinks it may eventually find a better land to inhabit than what it now knows then there is no ocean vast enough, no desert barren enough, and no forest dark enough to turn it back upon itself.”

A short bit of dialogue from my book The Endless Frontier in which an old Mountain Man explains to a young man that the human heart was built for frontiers. All kinds of frontiers…

ANCIENT AFRICA, THE ORO, AEZANA OF AKSUM, AND THE RUINS OF THE DEFFUFA

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.

NOT YET…

“I’m such a mess,” she said suddenly, burying her head in my chest. “I don’t even see how you put up with me.”

There wasn’t necessarily a good response so I asked her, “What do you mean?”

“I mean you deserve much better.”

She was probably right but that wasn’t gonna get us anywhere. Not being able to do much else I took her by the shoulders and pushed her away to look at her.

Her eyes were welling up with tears and it suddenly struck me that she might actually mean it this time. There was no way to be sure, but she at least looked and sounded genuine. I smiled at her.

“Woman, I think we both know that deep down inside, where you actually are, there’s no real problem in you. Trouble is that you’re not really any kind of solution yet either. So the question is, what are you gonna do about it?”

She lowered her eyes and as she did a single tear fell in the space between us. Then she looked up again and I could tell she wanted to say something, but before she could speak I placed my finger on her lips.

“Nothing you can say will matter,” I said. “Everything you do will.”

She nodded and then I walked out the door.

“We’ll see,” I thought to myself. “We’ll see.”

______________________________________________

The above is an extract from my literary novel, The Cache of Saint Andrew.

THE DAUFIN AND THE EGG?

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:

Daughfin

Dolfign/Dalfign

Dalphin

Dahlfin

Dalphang

Dolfang

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.

 

THE ENTITLED TRIBUTARY TALES

These two posts, The Tributary Tales, and Conan, Baba Yaga, and Tôl Karuţha will explain what I mean by the Tributary Tales.

Suffice it to say that over the holidays (in my spare time between Thanksgiving and Christmas)  I made basic, and sometimes quite complicated, plot and character sketches of the Tributary Tales I wish to write.

Below is the new and expanded list of the Tributary Tales I will write and the titles for each story. I’ll post plot and character sketches and the stories themselves as I write them. I’ve made good progress on Tôl Karuţha and on My Battered Heart already, with the second being a graphic novel script, not a short story. The Godzilla story, Rising Son, will actually be a film script not a short story. But most all of the others will be short stories or short novellas.

I will work on these stories and scripts in my spare time, they will not interfere with my business, novel, or non-fiction work.

So, here is my list of entitled Tributary Tales:

THE TRIBUTARY TALES

Tales of the Fictional (or partially fictional) and Mythical Characters that had the most influence on me growing up or that in later life most appealed to me

AeneasThe Flight from Knossos
BatmanMy Battered Heart
BeowulfThe Good King Comes But Once
Cole and HitchThe Ravine Near Ridgewater
ConanThe Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha
DaredevilBlack and Blood Red
Doc SavageSavage Is as Savage Does
GalahadGalahad and the Golden Stag
GodzillaRising Son: The Eternal Ocean is my Womb
HephaestusThe Forging of the Titan’s Chain
Horatio HornblowerThe Jib’s Complaint
Jack AubreyThe American Problem
John CarterThe City Never Seen
John GaltFree is a Four Letter Word
Kirk and Spock (Star Trek original series) – The Battleship Remission
Lone RangerThe Cold Wind at Sunrise

Lovecraftian  – The Secret Grave of Harrow Hill

Merlin The Bones of Old Stone
Nathaniel Bumppo (Hawkeye) and ChingachgookBlood Feather
OrpheusNo Music May Soothe, or perhaps, Tears of Iron
ParsifalThe Sorcerer’s Swan
Philip MarloweThe Crooked Dane
Robin the HoodThe Fletcher and the Fulmen
RolandThe Menhir and the Moor
Sherlock HolmesThe Case of the 12 Septembers
SiegfriedThe Rhine-Wine (of the Black Elf)
Solomon KaneWith Evil Intent
SpenserHigh Roll Her
Taliesin (Taliesin Ben Beirdd) – Sweetly Sang yet Rarely Ventured
TarzanThe Ruins of Khumbar and the Slave Girl
Túrin TarambarThe Piercing of Melkor’s Doom

THE VIKING CATS: THE TALES OF HALE

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: CONN’S SON

The Poeric Tale:

Conn’s Son

In the lands to the North, long ago in the world, there came a little newborn boy. He cried when he was first born, as all children must, but not many times thereafter. For he was brave and firm and he would see many wonders in the world, but not so many that ever frightened him enough to cause him to doubt himself.

His mother was young, and confident, and pretty, and she bore him patiently and without complaint, with the aid of her helpful maid until the little boy drew his first breath and saw his first morn in the Earth. Then his mother, still tired, but happy, beautiful, and steady, as only new mothers can be, took the child and wrapped him in warm blankets, and washed his head with chill water to clean him and prepare him to sleep.

But his father, as stout as a young oak, as mighty as a bull who plows many fields a day, burst into the room and taking the boy from his wife held him aloft with arms like iron bands, into the light of the new dawn. And as his father looked at the boy the boy looked back at him, resolutely and unflinching with bright, observant eyes, wondering who this newcomer might be and into what world he had been delivered and into whose company.

So the father said, “Hello my son, I am Conn, your father and sire, and you now are my boy, and we shall wander the wide world and see what God has made that he still keeps secret from other men.” And his voice was like a clear river that meets with many other waters to crash towards the sea.

The baby then murmured aloud and caught his father’s thumb as he grasped him and looked over his father’s shoulder, and out the frosted window into the frigid, open world beyond. Even though, as everyone knows, most babes are nearly blind and speak only in cries and wails, and few ever look far beyond themselves.

“Ho!” shouted Conn, “he is strong indeed, and fearless, and well-made. He itches to explore the world, and I see bravery in his bright eyes and I feel a deep fate in his sure, steady heart. Now this is a good boy!”

Then Conn bent down and placed the boy back into his wife’s arms and she took the babe and wrapped him close to herself, to keep him safe and warm until he could grow and fend for himself. And Conn kissed his wife, and stroked her hair, and told her how proud he was of her and their child, and how he would protect him, and travel with him teach him all he knew of everything and anything. Told her how the boy would outgrow them both, and become a mighty man and true. And the mother believed him and smiled, and before the babe fell asleep, it seemed the boy smiled too.

Satisfied Conn turned to go, but his wife stopped him.

“Husband, what shall we call him? If he is to be great then he will need a name befitting his fate.”

“Why, Aersa my wife, do you not see? He has named himself.”

“How so?” Aersa asked.

“Hale,” said Conn. “The boy is to be Hale, his whole life long,” and with that he turned and left them both to sleep, and to dream their own dreams.

 

HAVE A JOYOUS CHRISTMAS EVE MY FRIENDS!

THE VIKING CATS – background, outline, and structure

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…

CHAPTERS

Conn’s Son
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
Sea-Fire
(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

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – ĦLO’SĶIEŊL

Tome and Tomb

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.

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

ĦLO’SĶIEŊL
Before All

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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KILLING COPPERHEAD

This is a draft copy (an advanced draft, third edit) of part of a short story I wrote to accompany my novels, The Other World.

Stories such as this will not appear in my novels but will appear in a  separate set of short story works to accompany or supplement my novels.

In the story the Knight Garend is summoned to a chieftain of the Laėrehl (Lorahn) to discuss the sudden appearance of a creature we would call a dragon, and that the Laėrehl call Nemaljeyhk, or “Copperhead.”

The Laėrehl have never before encountered such a creature; do not know it, or its motives. But having heard of the Knight and his reputation they summon him in to consult upon the creature, and if need be, make a decision upon what to do.

Following the summons the Knight accompanies his escort to the hall of the Laėrehl.

_____________________________________________________

Skłýda-Nemaljeyhk

“Killing Copperhead”

Garend stood before the Konnacht. The rain was almost blinding; cold, bitter, and sharp. The mounts stamped and snorted. Steam rose into the air and the clouds hung thick upon the ground. Neither moved, but then the Konnacht motioned for the foreign man to mount and follow. And so Garend did.
They rode in silence for some unmeasured distance; time being a different affair in the land where diverse worlds do meet at odds. Garend’s escort sat atop his mount as if he had been carved from stone erect. His mount seemed to trudge with heavy effort, but did not slouch or dip to ground with weight of mud or storm.

Garend, by contrast, a man hardened and yet hale through many long campaigns ‘gainst restless foes did nevertheless sink low in upon his horse’s back, bent against the wind and rain, which sometimes drove in sheets, and sometimes drizzled down like mist falling from a boiling pot. But there was no heat in this storm, only an unremitting wash of toil.

Garend’s steed, too, fought hard to slog forwards on, each hoof deep buried by each new plod. The horse seemed to breathe with effort, snorting out each fresh exhalation as if trying to blow away the suspended vapor that lingered on the path. Yet the rain kept on, and where the overhang of huge trees gave shelter, still the mist hung motionless in the air.

By late afternoon the road seemed to widen, formed more solid, and then did part. In its place they came into a clearing, bordered on every side by thick groves of trees, some beautiful, open, tall, and proud, some smaller, gnarled, and thick with branch. The dell upon which they now traversed did seem worked by art, each grimed plod of the mounts upon the seeping earth seemed to plow up dark and comely soils, black and yet speckled with micaled bits of silver and gold. And atop the soil there sat, as if a taělőynd-bird could perch upon a leaf, a shoot of tall and blue-green grass, which when crushed by stride did give off such a fine and perfumed, pungent smell that the beast seemed newly heartened, even above the cold and rain.

The open land was encircled complete by an almost arcane wood and other wilder growth, and was not wide, easily crossed from end to end. But in the center rose a timbered hall, not long completed, so that one could see the joints and new work outstanding from the new formed frame. It was well made, seemly in her draft, pleasing to the eye, and hardily stout of build. The wood was alternating dark and bright, so that sections seemed to glow, and others seemed to sheen with shadow. To the drowned and heavy eye of the enquested man it seemed both to forbid approach, and to invite advance.

Garend paused his mount, and looked askance to his escort, who dismounted and seemed to peer into the hall as if he could gaze through the walls.

“They wait upon us,” the Konnacht said, his voice bereft of any hint of what that truly meant.
Garend turned to look full upon him, but he did not change his mark or measure, but merely remounted smooth and effortlessly. Then they both moved forwards again until they had come near unto the rain-polished black and argent flagstones that paved the path that led to the hall.

There they both dismounted and walked across the flagstone way that led to the doors of bright and milky wood that barred the entrance to within. Garend made to knock at the threshold, but the Konnacht caught his hand in his own to still him. Instead he took a horn, burnished, and trimmed in ashen silver from an unnoticed chain that hung nearby. He blew a note with lingered measure and the doors swung open, as if by some unseen impulse, and the inward firelight and illumined glow did bathe them both with rain-reflected lustre.

Inside a sort of subtle golden casting made the lambence of the place seem worked all by crafted art that seemed unreal to human eye. The fires did burn natural and appeared hot as if true with twisting flame, but the gleam of the light was suffused like the dreaming illuminations dreamt by the blind. The inner workings were clear, and the fittings all trim, the furnishings bright and the walls shaped and painted like wonders. But wherever the folk of the Konnacht sat or stood their shadows seemed hard, and yet did tremble like enfeebled ghosts. And a sort of pall seemed to grow as Garend espied each new thing which seemed to dampen all the gathered glow as if an unfocused dimness ran among the hall that did not blacken, but did oppress with gloom. Garend could not though see any other darkness, and the open, roomless hall seemed as shadowless as the full summer sun at noon.

The Konnacht walked forwards and the soft light seemed to absorb and diffuse him as he strode. Garend made to match him in stride and yet the glow of the space seemed unaccustomed to his manner, and so did seem to stick to his moon painted skin and sheen him like a foreign sweat. They continued on until they came near the far wall, where on the left side of the tapestry covered hall they approached a large and well-made chair of fire-hardened wood, decorated by subtle craft, covered in glyphs and embellished with delicate wares of gem and jewel.

A chief sat upon the seat, his manner brooding, his face fixed and searching.

“Man among us, do you know why you are here? Are you apprised of the nature of your summons?” asked the chief in his chair.

“I am,” replied Garend, without further remark by word or gesture.

“Will you then what is of you best most required?” And the chieftain did stare, and his eyes were fixed and aglow upon the hosted man.

“I will if I may, if such things lay in my power.”

“Do you doubt your arms?” said the chieftain of his kind in a keen, unbending voice.

“I do not, though I have never tested them against such a foe.”

“Do you doubt your will to do this thing?”

“Nay, I doubt not my will, if by that you mean will I falter at the start.”

The chieftain then sat silent, as if turning in his mind some other inquiry of heart he wished to test. But then his brow did knot with reconsideration, and he pursued a different path.

“What then?”

Garend stood silent, uncertain how to answer him. At length though he made reply.

“I know not. I have never done such a thing. I doubt not my arms, if strength of arms can true prevail. I doubt not my will, for my will never fails once turned with real and constant force upon my end… I… perhaps, I doubt my desire. I cannot say more than this for being inexperienced in such affairs, I can say only, in sooth, I doubt, but not enough to turn away.”

The hall was still, but restless in her shadowless gloom. And the chieftain’s eyes did pale like embers fading at the dawn of day.

“So be it.” Then the one upon the throne rose and made a signal for all of the others to gather firm and the doors of the great hall did close and they all made unfastened feast, as if feasts were made of whispered haunts. But Garend watched them all while they ate at uneasy leisure, and he held his tongue unless spoken to, and they likewise held to their own counsel until such time as it was meet. So they feasted, but there was little merriment, and all was quiet among them til they came to contend.

After all of their folk had feasted seven among them took up their jireans with blood-red strings and did play as was their wont, and the music was high and well-made, and yet somber and adrift. And the most skilled among them took from above one of the great hearth-fires the Yolian Harp and hooked it across his wide but slender shoulders and plucked at the shair strings as if he mourned with his hands some unspoken loss.

Then four of their women-folk, after their kind, made chorus, each voice octaved in turn of lead or lament as accord and concord makes true among them. Their song seemed to linger, and then to torse, and turn, running away from itself, and then rejoining in peculiar ways until Garend realized that subtly, almost without notice, they had blended one with another, so that all made the same music, and it was the song of the “Counselor’s Guest.”

‘Asair befirthun ςëlonquar ja-sholestua yaré
Adair nosayth yá-mairstin kiħl,
Megíra lamaŗnosaratĥ
Keikara cönayronǽ laiskõo tiu-khôona nue guare,
In samask yue lahmyst —
Degoli né mae,
Inė samist jyu jihnask
Degolae nìe sae,
Aplu lee-ëfar
Ŷist fareign a’-soon?
Ja-kamos layr ǽblę
Tyrm nahkü-estūhn?

And Garend thought it strange and foreboding that they made that lay, for he had come to tell them what he feared they were least willing to hear.

Then the chief among them, the one of the chair, stood, and all instruments were retired, and the hall fell silent, and there was no sound, and Garend thought that he alone still breathed.

“My people, we come to you today to hear this stranger’s voice, and give weight to his counsel. For he is familiar, after a fashion, with the nature of our concerns. So is as our custom, we will grant him right to speak both first, and last, and we will give credence to his view upon this matter. No matter what he says.” The people listened to their chief and bowed their heads as one in brief acknowledgement of what he spoke. Then the chief turned and spoke to Garend. “Man among us, you are famous even here as being just, and true, and brave. And if the accounts about you are as honest as your mien then we must measure whatever you say here with some solemnity, even if we do so against our own first intentions and against our own fullest wishes… Speak then. And say all that you will, as freely as you would. I am Tairåyrn, chief in this hall, and great of my Ghan.”

“It does not matter how wise or noble in nature you think him. He is still wild, and untamed in nature. I have encountered his kind before in the swamps of fens of my native homeland. They are bred within themselves to kill, and being as they are they are all the less likely to be as you preconceive them. In my lands they are not at home, but being strangers they wander aimless seeking whom they may devour. But I do not conceive that this beast is native or well-disposed to any land, for I think it rather a thing of probable corruption, that whatever it was before it is now by working of things unknown to me a vast and wholly untamed terror. It is Korreupt, and all korreupt are fiercesome, and full of grief.” Then Garend paused as he spoke as if he wished to gather to himself a hoard of potent words by which to well-adorn his speech and thereby truly express the dour visions in his in-most mind.

“The danger of this beast lies not in his thoughts, but in his heart. For he will grind your bones between his jaws, and he will rend your flesh within the thorny and hot cauldron of his dark mawl. He will drink your life’s blood as water and sup marrow from the barrow of bones he has broken among your people. And then, only then, though you may never chance to utter any voice to the despair of your fate, then in your own consideration of your self will you say, ‘The Man was right, and now I and all my folk am murdered because of the pride of our preconceptions.’” And a murmur of shock and discontent ran through the assembly, for the kin of the Laėrehl only speak with due decorum and in a careful and circumspect manner before strangers in their midst, and they were disturbed that anyone would speak to them with such brutal force, and with such rough and unworked plainness. But still others said to themselves, “Can this be actually true, and does sooth proceed for uncouth tongue?”

Then Wyndfuil stepped forward and spoke clearly and true for all his people to hear, for he was unmoved by Garend’s speech, and sought to turn his people back upon their accustomed way. “I do not countenance you Garend upon this matter. For you are merely a thing of war, a man used to sword and battle and conflict. But this creature is not native to your world, as you yourself have thus admitted. You also speak firmly of the Korreupt. But what can you really know of this matter? They are a thing long studied among us, and we know them and their kind well. We know their ways, and his, better than you and we are untroubled. You are strong in arms and dark of word, but you are no prophet fit to pronounce our doom.” And Wyndfuil smiled as he so spake, as if to emphasize the forthright nature of his words, and the people took new heart in their determined course, reassured that what they planned was sure and true. For Wyndfuil was a hunter without peer, and a mighty runner, swift, yet also far moving, and he feared none might catch him in his haste. Among his people his name had become ripe with fame, and he was known as a leader among his people. So he likewise feared no counsel contrary to his aims, and he was sure his words had run as true as he in flight. And so it seemed indeed to be among them that for a long time silence fell like a grey and troubled shroud within the hall while all who were within did well consider both argued sides in quiet thought.

Then Garend answered Wyndfuil, “A prophet, no, you surely speak a’right. I am not for the future; I am man of this day. Yet Gott in Himmel you foolish folk, I have eyes with which to see the doom that does now slither upon you from the ancient ways and in the form of the new-born thing.

You say I am but ignorant of this beast, and of all the other Korreupt, whom you know well. That you have studied such as these, and being well-pleased in your own knowledge of what you have discovered you are confident in both your own strength and in the preparations you have devised form what you know.

Perhaps in this you speak true enough. I have not long sat to watch these creatures. I have studied or pondered on them long. I do not know their most secret and peculiar habits, in this I fully admit to you that your mastery overtakes my own.

Yet what I know is this. I have seen the sorrow made and disgorged by this kind of thing upon all those whom it will make havoc. I have seen the ravage, the wreck, and the rapine. I have seen many folk all torn and bloodied, animals corpsed, consumed, and drained. Have seen the ruin it tends to visit upon all but the most well-defended of homes. I have seen hunters hunted and soldiers scalded, women crushed and children plundered, their parent’s dead and left for worms. You speak true Wyndfuil; I do not know these great beasts in their inmost hearts. And I do not care. But I know what they do. I have studied the remains of their own surest actions. You will be no different when it turns its eye upon you. It will come, and it will come hard and mighty. It will come as confident in its own nature as you are in yours. And it brings you death in fire and sorrow. So, if you are as wise as reputation makes warrant, then think on these things, for wisdom makes a better weapon against doom than the sharpest of arms.” Then Garend broke off and bowed to the people.

“Nevertheless I have sworn my word. I will do what I can to help you in this quest. And when you are all dead, I will bury your scant remains and weep for your great pride. And then I will take up my spear, and my helm and my sword, and I will hunt, and I will kill the Copperhead, the one you call Nemaljeyhk, or he me, and so in either case our tale will go forever unsung. For if he kill me too, then none will ever know what we did, or what we attempted. And if I kill him at the last then what shall it matter? For you will be utterly gone from this world, and to whom will I sing the dirge of your passing?” All again fell silent and many did lean forwards, it seemed, to see if he might speak again. So he did, but only once more.

“Yet still, you may choose wisdom.”

Then Garend did turn from the people and walked from the hall. Having ended his counsel he dismissed further claims. And the night was black, and the wind did moan. For he knew what they would decide.