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.

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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.

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 CAREER

Yesterday I spent most of the day writing client reports, preparing presentation materials for a speech, creating new documents for my Business, doing research and so forth.

Whereas I often greatly enjoy my business there are also times I grow tired of it and so today, after lunch, I will spend the rest of the day plotting out the last two novels in my fantasy/Myth series The Other World, drawing maps, and creating materials for by books.

I look forward to this with a great deal of enjoyment.

There are also times I greatly enjoy my Career.

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.

THE OMENS AND PROPHECIES: THE KEIN, THE KITHE, AND THE KÏTHÊL

THE KEIN, THE KITHE, AND THE KÏTHÊL

Before starting to work on my novel, The Viking Cats, I decided to take Sam for our regular afternoon mile walk through the woods. As we did we came across a large herd of cattle in one of the adjacent fields because a neighbor is clearing the next field for pasture land.

The herd was mixed white and black cattle. When I saw this it gave me an idea for an omen in one of my other novels, the Fantasy/Myth novel of The Other World.

In these novels a series of prophecies and omens appear which forewarn the various nations and characters of what is about to happen, but few pay any attention to such omens anymore. As a result only a small minority of people actually understand and prepare for what is about to occur.

In any case this is the background of this particular omen:

In the other world (Iÿarlðma) there is a tradition among the Sidèhl and the Lorahń (the two most contentious, numerous, and powerful races among the Eldeven peoples) of Symbolic Sacrifice Exchange.

The Sidh and the Lorahn have often fought in the past, usually involving small skirmishes, but in the distant past they fought many bloody and desperate wars leading to great destruction and on occasion even Civil War. So almost 3000 years ago they developed a ritual act of Peace and Fealty through Mutual Sacrifice Exchange.

The Sidh developed a herd of pure white cattle (not really cattle as we think of them, far more massive, powerful, and wild creatures but for purposes of illustration I will use the term cattle) with white eyes and without any blemish or other coloring. This herd is called the Kein, or the Kein-Sidh.

The Lorahn developed a herd of absolutely black cattle with jet back eyes. This herd is called the Kithe, of the Kithe of the Lorahn.

Each folk keep a herd of 300 or so such cattle only for the purpose of the exchange and as an act of peace-keeping and bond-searing.

Every three years, at the summer solstice, the herds are intermixed and interbred. Whatever is produced, regardless of numbers, if it is all it black goes to the Lorahn, if it is all white then it goes to the Sidh. If the offspring are of any other color, blemished, have any other color eyes, or are in any other way not like their father or mother herd then they are given to other folk, such as the Jukarn.

But every now and then, every few hundred years or so, one cow will give birth to a set of Twin Cattle, alike in every way except coloring. One calf will be blood-red in coloring, the other sea-blue in coloring. These twin calves are called the Kïthêl, and they are a powerful omen of things to come.

Almost inevitably one calf will be born with a congenital defect and will die within a few weeks of birth.

If the blue calf dies and the red one lives then it foreshadows a disastrous and destructive war, not necessarily between the Sidh and Lorahn (though that might be the case) but possibly one that will afflict all of the Eldeven peoples. Or the omen may signal an invasion upon the Eldevens by a powerful foreign force or people.

If the red calf dies and the blue calf lives then it foreshadows a terrible plague, catastrophe, or disaster that may well kill large numbers of Sidh, Lorahn, or the other Eldeven peoples.

However, on very, very rare occasion both calves may either be stillborn or may die shortly after birth. In this case there is an ancient but well known prophecy that such an event signals both a terrible war and horrible catastrophe.

But in the novel which I am writing the Kïthêl both live and begin to grow to adulthood as healthy and massive and seemingly tame and intelligent animals, an event that has never before occurred (that anyone knows of) and no-one can interpret what this actually means.

Some assume it testifies to a long period of peace, prosperity, and plenty, others assume it means the collapse of either the Sidh or Lorahn peoples; others have no idea what it might signify.

Actually there is a very ancient prophecy that was written and hidden away, being encoded within another text and even within an artefact, that was proclaimed long before the herds of Kein and Kithe ever existed. It tells of a blue calf and a red calf, born of the same mother, who grow to adulthood and what that prophesies for the future. But none of the characters in the book are immediately aware of this ancient prophecy or even that it exists. Only slowly do the characters become aware of what it is and what it might mean.

Well, I had best return to writing my novel.

By the way, this is a prime example of what a good walk does to stimulate your imagination…

FLIGHT AND FURY

A brief scene of combat between Marsippius Nicea (the de facto commander of the Byzantine special forces team the Basilegate) and a creature he has never before encountered.

This creature had been attempting to ambush Marsippius as he traveled alone through unknown territory but Marsippius observes him first and sets for personal combat.

From one of my Other World novels.

This is the second draft of this scene.

_________________________________________________

Marsippius bent his stave so fiercely that the bow seemed to double backwards like the horns of a fresh waxing moon, halving in height while multiplying many times in deadliness. He drew the shaft end all the way back past his furthest eyesight, feeling the soft fletching touch his ear like the passing wings of a fleet bird of prey at the final swoop. His left arm held steady being guided by the narrowing of his sight, the subtle turn of his stance, and the short hold of his breath. The spine of the shaft seemed perfectly still and straight, being of Eldeven make, and nearly perfect in heft and balance, and absolutely square and true in line. It was a killing shaft, an instrument of unfettered war and swift death, and he meant to use it as such, having been trained by the Sidèhl themselves in its best and most effective use. Both stave and shaft had been made for him, and he alone, presented as personal presents for his leal and long service to the Kitharians and the Samarl of Samarkand, and he had high faith in their making and great certainty in their sharpness and surety of purpose.

The creature came on in a rush, howling and growling all at once, its unnatural darkness and emanations of malice preceding it like an angry stormcloud swelled with preternatural fury. It ran in a lope, explosively at each new stride, seeming to leap both upwards and outwards to cover great distances as it moved in a bizarre, uncanny, and unsteady gait. Yet on it came, eerily but surely, 120 feet away, 100 feet away, 80 feet away, 60 feet away, and then Marsippius loosed his arrow. The shaft sped ahead a few feet into the open space before him, quivering and twisting in the air as it too lept forward uncannily, and then the shaft disappeared from sight as if Marsippius had loosed a thunderbolt, and not a crafted shaft of mortal make.

Marsippius saw nothing of the arrow’s flight but the shaft reappeared almost instantly, buried deep within the monstrous folds of fat and muscle that were the thing’s lower belly. It howled anew, grunted ferociously, twisted in its wild careen, fell sidelong with its massive and hairy arms outstretched to try and absorb the blow it would feel as it crashed to the broken ground in a wreck. The black soil churned when it struck, and a cloud of dark debris exploded violently at the impact. The thing rolled catastrophically, filling the air with guttural and awful noises, and screaming unknown curses in an unknown tongue. If it was a tongue, and not the signaled sound of diseased damnation spout out from the ugly mouth of hell. The creature rolled out lengthwise and then stopped moving.
Yet only for a moment.

Then it twisted away from the earth as if the ground underneath offended it, stood to one knee, and ponderously, painfully, used its powerful hands and forearms to rise once more to its monstrous height.

Marsippius bent forward slightly and quickly plucked another upright arrow from the ground where he had placed five more silver shafts before him. He nocked the new arrow, drew once more, and lowered his aim upon the hard gasping but still living thing.

The speed and momentum of its crash and fall had cast it forward towards Marsippius even farther than perhaps its loping run might have, save for the momentary pause as it stopped to rise and examine itself and the severity of its wound. Barely more than thirty feet now separated the Roman soldier from the obscene and unnatural beast – the thing, the monster, whatever it might in truth really be.

Marsippius could see the slick and slimy foam fleck upon its bloody and crusted lips, and a sort of black ichor was seeping from the terrible wound left by the arrow the Roman had shot deep into it. The fall and roll had shattered the Eldeven shaft, leaving only a few splintered shards of dirty debris still protruding from the gape that the crash had made by gouging out an even bigger and more vile tear in whatever this thing called flesh. Marsippius reasoned, or perhaps hoped, that the fall had not only broken the Sidhelic shaft and torn the wound too wide to heal, but had perhaps driven the remaining end of the shaft and arrow head deep into its bowels, therefore assuring it bled to death in time, or eventually killed the creature with a black infection grown from its own foulness and rot.

The creature stood erect again, but then bent forward, heaving to breathe, its dreadful and reddened, bulging orbs fixed upon the Roman like the terrible eyes of venomous serpents spawned in the torture pits of the far Orient. Marsippius could see the thing debating with itself – would it try and close the gap between them as quickly as possible, risking another wound like the terrible one it now suffered? Or would it turn and attempt a reckless and wholesale flight hoping the Roman could not shoot it twice with the same skill and near lethal effect?

Marsippius for his part considered that if he shot again and missed he might not have enough time to make a good third shot before the thing was upon him, and in his own mind he rehearsed his next actions in sequence, as his training and experience had taught him to imagine and prepare for each engagement. First he would fire, and kill the thing or not, he would then draw his Spatha from its sling along his back and await the charge of the monster, hoping that in its fury or desperation he could spy a spot to drive his blade so deeply and true that the shock and force would prevent a counter-attack, and do the thing swiftly to death. In his mind Marsippius was practiced, cold, watchful, and wary, as his years of combat and warfare had taught him to be when faced with great danger, but in his heart he knew that if the creature took him in its grasp it might very well rip him to pieces as a man might pull apart the soft limbs of a roasted hare well before he might hope to kill it.

So the Roman aimed for the center of the beast, at its deep barreled and protruding breast, focusing his attention so absolutely that he saw nothing else but what he imagined to be the misshapen and misbeaten heart of the fearsome creature. Hearing nothing but the ragged breathing of the beast as it struggled to catch its breath and overmaster the agony of its vicious wound. If it came on he would place another shot with all his skill and the full fury of his toxon, and if it fled he would exchange its rounded chest for its flat and wide back as the target of his aim.

Almost as if sensing what he thought the creature turned sideways, making itself a much smaller target than before and momentarily confusing the soldier’s aim. It also almost assured that even if Marsippius hit him squarely, it would likely not be a lethal wound, since unless struck in the head or neck the thing’s cobbled and disordered armor or his thick muscled chest, thighs, or arms would most likely absorb the greater part of the damage of the shot. Marsippius therefore refocused his aim, for he still meant to either partially cripple or hobble the creature, but he now suspected he could not kill it with but another single shaft. He also now wondered if the thing might hope to stand still long enough to exhaust his bow arm, attempting thereafter to dodge or deflect his shaft, then come rushing on with whatever strength it might have left intending to overpower Marsippius in close combat. Again the Roman practiced in his mind what he would do next; fire, draw his blade, await the charge, and strike his best blow, or if the thing avoided his shot and then took to flight, whether to pursue or try to shoot him again as he fled.

Marsippius waited, but the thing shifted not again, and even seemed to calm, to relax, to gain mastery of its breath and pain to such a degree that it seemed to become more inanimate stone than living thing. Marsippius resisted the urge to shoot until he felt both his arms begin to quiver slightly, and fearing that exhaustion at the long draw might weaken him at sword-arm should combat become necessary, he relaxed monetarily, caught his breath, and loosed.

The shaft hummed warmly as it took flight, quivered, sped like a flash of lightning, and disappeared. It seemed to Marsippius that the shaft flew entirely true but the creature was cunningly crooked, or else some unnoticed witchcraft was hard at work as the arrow sped, for the flight went awry and clearly missed its mark. This time Marsippius thought to himself, the thing was ready, and not arrogant and reckless in attack. It now knows I am dangerous, it now will be doubly so.

Marsippius cast his bow aside, reached down and slung his shield to his left, sliding his hand and forearm into the bracings and setting himself for the coming fight. He reached behind him and swiftly drew his Spatha, the weapon of his youth and the ancient heirloom of his command. Having been recently recast by Eldeven art at the request of the Samarl it seemed to both shiver and shimmer in the noonday sun, but the creature came on again covered in grim and grimy gore, hot with renewed fury and bent on unholy vengeance. It met the Roman’s bright blade with a darkness it cast out from itself. If there was to be any further flight, thought Marsippius, then it would be because one of them fled this world entirely and for the very last time.

THE THRONE OF WISDOM

Had an interesting idea this morning while walking Sam for one (or maybe more than one) of my fantasy/mythological novels. Probably first and foremost for The Other World.

It is called the Throne of Wisdom and it is based upon my own experiences with my office chair (which I intend to replace today with a new and far better engineered chair).

The Throne of Wisdom is a chair/throne employed by one of the Kingdoms in my novels. The throne is beautiful and seems luxurious to all appearances and whoever sits in/on it (after being properly appointed or elected or having won the chair by right – different methods apply but the throne is never hereditary) will be King.

However by law the new king must sit in the chair for four hours each day, no exceptions, seven days a week. For two hours he must pass judgments and for two hours he must conduct other business. He is not allowed to move from the chair, stand, or go elsewhere. For any reason – of any kind. He cannot go to the bathroom or receive food or drink. He must “Work Upon the Throne of Wisdom without rest or complaint or cease.

At first the chair seems comfortable but over time, because the throne is enchanted, it becomes slowly ever more excruciating to sit in it. (Like my office chair.) Eventually the throne will physically and mentally cripple and finally kill the one who sits upon the throne. The Wise Man realizes early on that the chair is not what it appears to be and that the throne, while seemingly beautiful and comfortable, is actually a high and heavy burden.

The Wise Man therefore eventually “steps down” when the throne becomes too painful to endure (usually after three to seven years) and gives it over to another, whoever his successor might be. All the wiser for the experience.

The fool and he who grasps at power tries to continue to sit the throne indefinitely until it either cripples him, drives him mad, or kills him.

The Throne will be as much a story about the surrounding population and People of the Kingdom, and about those who attend and serve the king, as it will be about the “king.”

For whenever the People and officers of the court and soldiers and the king’s guardsmen are cowards and fools in their own rights they allow the king to sit indefinitely without overthrowing him, and they follow whatever orders he gives no matter how tyrannical, foolish, reckless, self-destructive (to the Kingdom), and unlawful. Their own foolishness and cowardice makes them craven and witless accomplices in the tyranny of the “Fool King and the Fool’s Throne.”

But whenever the People and officers of the court are Wise they refuse the orders of the Fool King and revolt against and overthrow whoever would sit madly or recklessly forever upon the Throne.

For a Wise People give birth to Wise Rulers and a Wise Ruler knows both his own limitations and his True Duties to his People.

But a cowardly and foolish and self-absorbed people give birth to selfish and foolish rulers and a ruler who is a fool both dictatorially oppresses his people and gives birth to more just like himself.

THE RACES OF EARTH AND IŸARLÐMA – THE OTHER WORLD

Some background on the various folk, people, and races inhabiting my novel series The Other World (the Kithariãd) and how they relate to one another.

 

Human Race – divided into normal human sub-racial groupings. Human beings live on Terra or the Kosmos (Earth) and only by accident (or some would say misfortune or fate) ever visit other worlds, such as Iÿarlðma.

Eldeven Race(s) – divided into several separate sub-racial groupings. These include the Sidèhl, Jükaŗn, Lorahń, Ghêriel, and some say the Avafał and Maştur of Iÿarlðma. Also called the Telwé-Iÿarlðmayn or “Free Peoples of Iÿarlðma.”

Sidèhl or Sidhel also named by men the Caer – Similar in many ways to the Western concept of Elves, but not so much the Tolkien-type elves as mythological elves, the Sidh being an extremely cunning and dangerous group of beings. The Sidh are a noble people but are extremely inscrutable and severe. Highly organized (and some say ruthless) they are considered the de facto leaders and political force among the Eldevens. The Sidh are the natural organizers of the Eldevens. As a result they are the most powerful political and military force among the Eldevens. They are said to be a diplomatic race but are swift to anger and lethal when agitated. In addition it is said that the Sidh are the most naturally gifted of all users of Elturgy (magic) among the Eldeven, yet many of them also are instinctively wary and distrustful of Elturgy. The Sidhel possess extremely sensitive eyesight and can see at great distances. It is also said that some Sidh can see the invisible and some even possess “foresight.” Outsiders often refer to them as the “Wyrd Folk,” or the “Folk of High Dooms.”

Jükaŗn also named by men the Dwelvar – Similar in many ways to Nordic Dwarves, also an extremely dangerous and fearsome people if properly provoked. They also hold generation’s long grudges and occasionally feud violently and bloodily among themselves. The Jukarn are slow to breed and often attempt to hide or segregate their females, who are said to be extraordinarily beautiful and shapely, even if small and fiery, from the rest of the world. Male Jukarn are, however, notorious womanizers of their own females and of the females of other races and many fights and wars have started among them for this reason. The Jukarn are excellent engineers and builders of massive siege engines. They rarely prefer to personally engage in war (for political or non-personal reasons) but are renown as excellent armorers and builders of war-engines. Jukarn tend to be highly intelligent, yet often guileful. The Jukarn are well known for two things, their ability to detect vibrations in their very bones, often providing them with forewarning of approaching disaster or danger, and their extremely keen sense of hearing. Therefore they are often called the “Listeners.” They are also sometimes called the “Blood Folk” for their habit of smearing themselves with a blood red dye for adornment.

Lorahń also named by men the Sylf or Sylvar – a sub-group of the Sidhel and distantly related to them. The Sidh tend to be urbanized and civilized. The Lorahn disdain cities and settlements preferring to live in loose tribal associations (like American Indians once did) and to live off the land, preferring a naturalistic existence. They much favor Elturgy (and naturalistic Elturgy at that) to technology and craft as the Sidhel and Jukarnians do, and distrust collectivism, urbanization, and a reliance upon groups. They value individualism above all else. They are natural Frontiersmen and of all the Eldevens they breed the fastest, live the hardest, and die the youngest, often by misadventure or sheer love of danger. They are however almost totally immune to most diseases. Of all Eldevens they are the most xenophobic, especially towards Men and Sidh. The Lorahn are possessed of two extremely discriminating senses, the sense of smell and the ability to hear. They can often smell faint odors for leagues, having a sense of smell like a bear. Their hearing is so keen that it rivals or even exceeds that of a wolf. Perhaps because of this the Lorahn find themselves most naturally aligned with the Jukarn when it comes to other Eldevens. Many call them the “Green Folk.” Both because of their naturalistic lifestyle and because they can actually cause their flesh to assume a bluish or tan or greenish hue in order to blend into their environments.

Ghêriel also named by men the Gnössom, or Gnömso – a subrace distantly related to the Sidh but much smaller in physical size. Like the Lorahn they prefer to keep to themselves but they are also master craftsmen and builders of small and complicated artifacts. Known for their enormously sensitive and discerning sense of touch. They are also known for being crafty, cunning, hidden, and secretive by nature. The Gheriel folk often produce geniuses of various types. These geniuses however tend to be loners who prefer to work by themselves. A small percentage of Gheriel are born blind yet nevertheless their skin and other senses become so sensitive that they naturally possess a gnosense which gives them an uncanny ability to both understand how things work and to perceive things others cannot. The Gheriel are said by some (although they keep such things secrets among themselves) to be the longest lived of all the Eldeven peoples with some living to be over 1500 years old. Many call them the “Sharp Folk,” or the “Secret Folk.” Some name them the “Gold Folk,” because as they age their skin takes on a peculiar golden hue. It is said by some that right before a Gheriel dies he will turn the color of purified gold.

Avafał also named by men the Eladruin – a Race (the New Ones or the Fallen Ones) or sub-race (depending upon your point of view) that occurs when some member of the Eldeven Race mates and produces an off-spring with some member of a Human Race. Extremely rare as most such matings produce no offspring and even when such a mating is successful the child often does not survive into adulthood. Those that do survive often become extremely wise and trusted advisors and explorers possessing keen senses and a deep curiosity, an active mind, and a restless and searching spirit. They also tend to be a good and noble mixture of the more positive traits of their parents. They are sometimes called the “Gray Folk,” or the “Twilight Folk.” However some Avafal become Balkar or Fallen Ones, bitter outcasts and wanderers, hating and eschewing one parent or another, or both, with a tendency towards lifelong hatred and a desire for vengeance against the people of one parent or another for what they perceive as the supposed injustice of their birth and life.

Maştur – known as the “Black Eldevens,” or the Dark-Haired Elds” even though their skin tends to be very pale to almost albino white or sun-burned reddish in color. Their hair however is usually as jet black as their eyes, the tips of their ears, and the palms of their hands. Unlike the Sidh who tend to usually be near man-sized, or the Jukarn who tend to be short, the Mastur appear in a wide range of heights and sizes, from almost seven feet tall near giants to short four to five foot tall individuals. The Mastur long ago separated themselves from the other Eldeven peoples of their world, taking to the Sea, hence their other nickname, “The Sea-Farers.” Eventually they settled in a single large colony (with nearby smaller colonies) near the North Pole. Some actually live in hollowed out glaciers as hermits and it is also said that the Mastur either discovered a long abandoned and dead city in the arctic that had been built by a vanished race (possibly the Orasta) or that they built their own Capital city and port deep beneath a huge ice-sheet in the Frozen Sea of Ilkfriģ. It is not known whether or not either story is true or merely legend. It is also said that in the arctic that the Mastur discovered a strange form of magic or a weird artefact which gave them control over a weird form of magic they call Ylturgy, or Ulturgy. It is also not known whether or not this rumor has any basis in fact.

Farmarhlýan – Long before the Skëma (the Great Sundering that led to the various races of the Eldeven Folk) there was another group of the Eldeven peoples. The Sire and leader of these Eldevens, Farmarhl, one day stood before all of the gathered Eldeven peoples and said that he had received a Vision and a Dream that told him he must journey East with his people, to follow a Giant Silvered Stag to some new and unknown land. Few believed him until three days later when a giant silvered stag actually did appear and presented itself before Farmarhl. The stag was wild and would allow no one else to touch it except Farmarhl. Farmarhl named it the Yärnalaös, or Yärn (Stag) of the Dawn, and within a week he and his people were following it into the East. For seven years Farmarhl sent riders and messages back to the other Eldevens regarding his people’s progress but in eighth year all messages stopped and no more messengers appeared. The Farmarhlyan have never been heard from again, not in thousands and thousands of years, and no trace of them has since been discovered. They are now only remembered in song and lore and in a few brief and ancient copies of some of their early messages. Some call them the “Lost Folk,” and the “People of the Unseen Dawn.”

Adhařma Race also named by men the Anakös or Yettin – A race of powerful demi-giants who are excellent engineers and architects. These giants are known as the greatest builders on their world and the Eldevens (especially the Sidhel and the Jukarn) often contract with them to build their cities. The Adharmenes are highly intelligent but rather short lived compared to the Eldevens. This race may live to 75 or 80 years before succumbing to death. They also tend to suffer many health problems throughout life (probably due to their size) though they also tend to be enormously tough and immensely strong. However they are often susceptible to disease and injury, taking longer than most other peoples to heal. For this reason the Adharma invented the Harmindir (the Healing Hall) and have become expert healers and physicians. The Adharma practically built the Capital (and many say greatest) City of the Sidh, Samarkand. The Adharma also seem to share an odd an affectionate bond with the Gheriel, despite their enormous differences in size and longevity. They are sometimes called the Keldthŗengs (Walking Towers).

Gabraen Race – also known as the Ekronëv or Renown Ones. This race is a half-brother race to the Adharmenes and although only slightly taller and more bulky than humans they also seem to possess enormous and almost preternatural strength similar to that of the Adharma. Hairy and muscular many consider them coarse in appearance and ungainly in nature. Especially compared to the Sidh and the Lorahn who are considered attractive in appearance and graceful in motion. They are most renowned though for being physically fearless, incredibly tough, and enormously skillful hunters. They are not particularly susceptible to disease and injury but they are a violent and aggressive and forthright race and often die young and in combat. They are however master and spellbinding storytellers and well versed in song and music. Generally though they are disliked by the Eldeven peoples, whereas the Adharma are often admired by and friendly with the Sidh and Jukarn and Gheriel. The Gabraen typically tend to live only to be about 50 years old, and will tolerate the company only of the Adharma, the Lorahn, and some men. The Gabraen as a whole seem to be an outcast race, and to consider themselves as such.

Orasta (the Dawn People) Race – A lost race about whom not much is known except for the ruins of their high and bloody and brutal culture. They were said to have at one time been great explorers and colonizers having explored much of “the Old World,” before the Great Remaking or High Reforging of Iÿarlðma. What eventually happened to them or how they may have been destroyed no one is really sure and even the oldest legends and myths fail to mention their final fate. But not a single body or tomb of their dead has ever been uncovered. Many among the Sidh believe that the Orasta were the nascent forebears of the Eldeven races or that they never actually vanished, but opinions on the matter are hotly debated and disputed. The Jukarn say they were a wholly evil race and the Adharma greatly fear the ruins of the Orasta but will not say why. The Orasta are also called the Meilorein Race (Lost or Invisible Ones) by the Sidh.

 

There are also other obscure and vanished races of Iÿarlðma but little to nothing is actually known of their true natures and cultures by the Eldevens or by Men.

 

 

THE LEXICON OF IŸARLÐMA (THE OTHER WORLD)

Because the plot, story, and terminology of my novel series (The Other World – the Kithariãd) has become so complicated and involved over time I have begun the construction of a Lexicon so that I and my readers may track all of the various languages, neologisms, and terms I have invented for the novels.

It will eventually include all of the arcane and neologistic and specialty terms I use or have invented in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and English as well, but for now I am only compiling those terms I have invented for the various Eldeven languages used in the book.

At this point it runs to 20 pages or so, but I expect it to grow significantly over time and I have yet to alphabetize the lexicon for ease of use. A hard chore but a necessary one.

Eventually I expect this Lexicon to be to my mythopoeiac works something like Alfred the Great’s lexiconographical works were to the Real World.

THE LORD OF TABLES

I post this as one of my Halloween posts for this year.

This is a fable in verse I wrote about one of the characters in some of my novels (The Other World). He is called The Lord of Tables because he keeps a stronghold in which no war or discord is allowed and he freely fetes and entertains many (from his seemingly inexhaustible stores), even those who are notorious and devotedly sworn enemies of one another.

His home seems a place of sanctuary and feasting and goodwill, and indeed it is, but underneath it all the Lord of Tables is engaged in a long-flowering and on-going Act of Justice which will one day break forth in a terrible setting to rights of all of the wrongs that have ever come to his notice.

The Lord of Tables is called such by others because they see him as a “table-maker,” a man of great hospitality. He calls himself the Lord of Tables because to him the title is a metaphor implying basically the same thing as the Scales of Justice. And one day the Lord of Tables hopes to “turn the tables” and therefore achieve his true end.

The poem below, which the Lord of Tables wrote himself about himself (actually I wrote it, of course, but in the book he writes it about himself), is designed to be either recited or sung at the various feasts which he hosts.

It seems a very innocuous and innocent poem/song until you know his actual and real intent. Then almost every line is “spiced and seasoned” with an underlying and very ominous meaning. The song is in truth not a recounting in verse of what is happening at the moment, but is actually a poetic prophecy of things to come.

The poem is therefore a coded warning of the Lord’s future and truer intentions.

The Lord of Tables is a very accomplished poet and minstrel in his own right, but thinks of himself first and foremost as an instrument of long-delayed Justice, while others think of him merely as a generous and compliant and diplomatic King and peace-maker.

The Lord of Tables never recites or sings the last 4 stanzas of his Song, he only ever sings or allows to be sung the first 8 stanzas of his Song to those he fetes and feasts. He has never sung or recited the last four stanzas to anyone; he keeps those in secret reserve for his Day of Justice.

One day however, when the time is right, he shall gather all of his guests together in his “Hording Halls” and sing the last four stanzas of his Lay.

Then he shall lay on thick and bloody with Justice, and many will eat their fill and far more than their appetite can withstand.

 

THE LORD OF TABLES

I spice my ales, I spice my wine
My bread I make with honeyed rhymes
I spice my beer with mint and thyme
My meat I sauce with sweets and brine

My greens I grow to touch the sky
My fruit trees flower day and night
My soups on fires boil to heights
That feed my foes to my ally

My table it is amply lain
With treats aplenty, lack allayed
Desire too is swift arrayed
Then conquered there ‘til naught remain

My drink it quenches every thirst
As all who taste it will confer
Seasoned as the guest prefers
So potent that the skins will burst

My grapes are sharp, both strong and tart
My vineyards yield without regard
No dearth grows there, no discard
Nothing lost or set apart

My cheeses mellow in their vault
Their taste like silvered dewdrops wrought
Their ken and kine both dearly bought
I treasure them against assault

Some come to feast where I make keep
I gather them in halls to heed
That none may hunger or know need
A Hoard of Plenty, high and steep

Some though come to me to fast
I serve them true as they have asked
Yet seeing all the goods that bask
Upon my table wont won’t last…

Secret Stanzas:

Songs are sung as men do fête
Contests fair of measured state
Marque these men in their estates
To see which evidences fate

Shouts and roars of merriment
Oaths are called, while some are sent
Deep beyond all banishment
To be stored with my consent

Now King I am of fruitful fare
Others think me mild as air
Because I share with no despair
My bounty’s gain without compare

Yet what they know not as I sit
This Lord of Tables none abets
To forget the wrong I’ll set
To right forever – not acquit.

HARROWHOARD AND HALLOWHOARD

Crap, I had to get up out of bed and work again this morning even though I didn’t want to. Nevertheless I had three ideas far too good to lose. So I just got up and started working them.

They occurred to me as I was reading Tolkien’s reworking of the Lay of the Völsungs – Sigurd and Gudrun. Specifically the section just after Sigurd slays Fafnir and he and the dwarf Regin are discussing the outcome which has some of my favorite Tolkienic lines of the Lay.

“Nay, blame not thyself,
Backward helper!
Stout heart is better 
Than strongest sword.”
“Yet the sword I smithied,
The serpent’s bane!
The bold oft are beaten
Who have blunt weapons.

I love these lines, especially the ones I have emboldened and italicized as both are true. For different reasons yet both true.

Then the poem goes on to speak of Regin cutting out the heart of Fafnir and encouraging Sigurd to cook it so that Regin can eat it and gain the dragon’s magical powers. Sigurd does so but accidentally burns his fingers and touches the cooking blood to his tongue to cool his finger and he gains the magical power to understand the languages of beast and birds.

Thereafter Sigurd learns of Regin’s treachery, slays him, and takes the Rhinegold for his own only to later learn of the tragic curse upon the treasure.

This gave me three related ideas to use in my own novels. The first is of a group of Lorahn (a powerful but more rural and rustic and primitive fairy people distantly related to the Sidhs, the Lorahn remain basically a wilderness or frontier people while the Sidhs have over time become more urbanized and moved to the interior) who go about the inhabited parts of Iÿarlðma hunting down and slaying any Korreupt (a monster created by exposure to Elturgy, or magic) they can find. After slaying them it becomes a common practice for these hunters to eat various parts of the monsters they kill thereby temporarily (not permanently) gaining their powers (The Blood of Uncanny Monsters). Only later do they discover that some of these monsters are actually their own people who have been transformed by exposure to Elturgy. Therefore these hunters have been practicing cannibalism unawares. With later drastic and disastrous consequences.

Secondly thinking about both the Cursed Gold of the myth and the forging of Gram by the dwarf Regin I had an idea for a large Hoard (treasure trove) of powerful and ancient artefacts and items that is also cursed but one that is cursed in a very peculiar way. The discoverer of the hoard can take any object he wishes from it without harm, any object he likes or desires (and some of the objects evoke an almost lustful desire to be possessed) but only one (that is the first nature of the curse) and the hoard itself often tries to lead the item-taker in particular choosing-directions. Often a hoard-object seems the perfect item for a given individual to possess but later on the hero or item-taker discovers that the object taken was the entirely wrong object, or an object that is as much a burden as a boon. The hoard also never seems to appear in the same place twice and furthermore if one intentionally goes looking for it then it can almost never be discovered. It is almost always stumbled upon by seeming accident. How the curse of the single-item will work I have yet to precisely decide but I have a couple of ideas about how it might function. I call this treasure trove the Harrowhoard, that being a play on words meaning both, “the Hoard of Suffering,” and the “Harrowed, or Plowed-under, Hoard.” Because the hoard is both often found underground or in harrowed lands, and for the habit of the hoard in suggesting false choices thereby “plowing under” (burying) the item taker with his treasure.

The third idea I had, and the second for a hoard, is not what one would typically think of as a hoard at all but rather is more like a shrine containing hundreds of powerful relics smuggled away from their original hiding place on our world by secret Eldeven agents who steal the powerful relics of various Saints and take them to their own world, that of Iÿarlðma. The Eldevens (mostly Sidhs, but others as well) build a hidden and Elturgically concealed and protected shrine to house and store these relics. Occasionally though someone will stumbled upon this hoard or pierce the elturgical enchantments protecting it and make off with a relic only to find that within a short period of time, although they still possess the relic, they have no memory of the location of the hoard. Also not knowing what the relic is or what it is for these relics are often as obscure to the owner as they would be to anyone else who knew not what they possessed. I call this hoard the Hallowhoard. For obvious reasons.

I still have to devise the proper Eldeven and Sidhelic terms (in those languages) for both Harrowhoard and Hallowhoard but I’ll do that later.

Anyway it is nearly 2:30 AM now and I must get back to working to integrate these ideas into my novel.

Thank God my wife is off work tomorrow and I can sleep some during the day. I’d like a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at least.

ALL WORLDS from THE OTHER WORLD

“If all of the pointless and wholly unnecessary suffering in this life were collected into one vast infernal pool of anguish then it would account for the far greater part of all misery ever endured. And entirely drown the world.”

He looked off into the distance as if expecting to see some fast approaching tide of the very Ocean of Woe he had just conjured with his own words. Or perhaps he was merely remembering some far off flood of it he had never been able to forget.

“Which world?” I asked him.  “This world, or the Other World?”

“All worlds, my friend. Every one of them…

THE WRATH OF WROTHCHOLIRE

Two nights ago I wrote a poem (As We Age) and then started working on the fragments for The Wrath of Wrothcholire. Wrothcholire is an indestructible sword that appears in my high fantasy writings comparable to Gram and Durandal and Caliburn (Excalibur) in myth and legend.

It was forged of dark red (blood red) meteoritic rock but when finished the blade came out to be black and scored with an odd pattern and design. As far as is known the blade cannot be broken but will bend and flex. It is easy to sharpen and will hold an edge for many combats. Wrothcholire goes all the way back to my teenage years and was my imagined embodiment of the “perfect sword” and “ideal personal weapon.”

Wrothcholire is said (by those who have wielded him, and many famous heroes over several ages have wielded him) to possess a will or intelligence of his own, not that it can speak but rather that it will impel it’s bearer to great anger and fury if it desires the destruction of an enemy.

Wrothcholire (and this is the English name for the Sword, it has many different Eldeven names and names in other tongues) means wroth, or wrath, and choleric, and iresome. It also means, from the root terms, twisted (because of the pattern in the metal), to writhe (because of it’s seeming to writhe like a serpent when angered), and riven.

Wrothcholire is never said to be owned, but rather borne or that it’s user “bears the wrath of Wrothcholire upon and within himself.”

This goes back to when I was a young man and would become intensely angry and dangerous and do things I later deeply regretted. So also is Wrothcholire. Wrothcholire often pushes its bearer to fearsome and even horrible deeds, and sometimes even close to murderous deeds. Wrothcholire is really my own personified Fury, both a source of great strength for me, and probably my greatest lifelong vice. It took me a long time to conquer my own Wrothcholire, and a few bearers over time do tame the blade and they become lifelong friends. Many others Wrothcholire uses as much as they use him.

I have over time written many shorts stories involving Wrothcholire, in which the weapon appears either overtly as itself, or covertly and in disguise, but recently the idea has occurred to me to write some poetic fragments about the blade that I will eventually combine into either recited Skaldic verse or a Bardic song, maybe both. In either case his Lay shall be called, “The Wrath of Wrothcholire.”

So last night I began that. Here is what I first devised:

No voice of life could he (Wrothcholire) engender
Yet Fury burned, a shining beacon
Within his wrath, a terror vengeanced
Yearned to make of his foe’s ending…”

Another stanza,

He writhed, he bled, the foeman fled
An ancient anger soon caught flame
The Whore of Heaven made a bed (or dug a grave)
Of endless night, and brutal shame…

Another set of verses

He brake the Drake
Did slay the Würm
An endless wound that would not heal
Far better had they perished both
Than in such anger ruthless killed…”

The last I composed,

The End of All Illness comes to he
Who in such fury burns so bright
This blade of death, so distant sent
Has pierced my heart, and now I’m spent (or, variantly, my soul is rent)

Wrothcholire is said to be the Blade of Nine Names.

As far as those who know of him he has had Nine Names over time, and I have translated them all into English.

The Nine Names of Wrothcholire:

Wrothcholire (Eternal Fury or Writhing Fury)

The Fell-Black Sword (from its color and twisted pattern)

The Sword of Starless Night (because when it kills it is said to “blanket the foe in a starless night.”)

The Blade of Fury (self-explanatory)

The Brand of Vengeance (also self-explanatory)

Battle’s Beacon (said because it forewarns the bearer that another soon intends to attack, even if the other pretends peace)

The Wound Eternal (said because it typically leaves a wound that will not heal in the foe, or it leaves a wound of anger in the bearer that will not pass)

The Serpent’s Snare (because it is a Würm-killer, or dragon and monster-slayer)

The Whore of Heaven (this is actually an English mistranslation of a Sidhelic name – the Sidhels call Wrothcholire the “Blood-Ore of Heaven” because of the meteoritic fragment from which it was forged, but this was later mistranslated into English as the Whore of Heaven, sometimes the Whorl of Heaven, because of its writhing, and the name stuck by repetition)

The Sword will figure prominently in some of my fictional works, such as my High Fantasy novels and myths.

CONAN, BABA YAGA, AND TÔL KARUŢHA

Now that the days grow colder, the nights lengthen, and the Earth grays my creative impulses grow great indeed.

Not only have I recently done some superb research that should further enrich the plot to my High Fantasy novels (The Other World) considerably, but today while at the library I decided to do something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid (teenager actually) – I am going to write a Conan story. Based upon Robert E Howard’s Conan character.

When I was a teen every year, during the Autumn and Winter, I would read certain material, such as Conan stories and the horror stories of HP Lovecraft. Today while searching for my typical Autumn fare of Howard and Lovecraft stories (and long ago I had read them all, still I re-read them most every year for the atmosphere they evoke in my mind and imagination during these seasons) I said to myself, “Well, hell, you’ve read them all, why not just finally write one?”

Conan the Cimmerian

Not having a decent counterargument I told myself I would finally do just that. So all afternoon I have been devising a plot, a very good one in my opinion, for this story. I have it fairly well sketched out already in my imagination and I shall call it, The Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha. I have not yet decided however whether to write it as a straight forward Howard-type Conan story, or, whether to write it as if it were part of a Nordic prose saga. I may even write it as if it were a Skaldic poem recounting Conan’s encounter with Tôl Karuţha during his “War against the Ancient Dead” (the Cold-Ghost War). In that case I will call it Tôl Karuţha Edá.

This is told during a time period when Conan is in his early thirties and soon to be a tribal chieftain but before he ever becomes a king.

I am currently toying with all three versions of the tale, maybe even writing one prose version (of whatever kind) and one Skaldic version (for retelling at court).

In either case I will post the story here, to Wyrdwend, in its entirety when completed. Though I may have to serialize it in part depending upon how lengthy it becomes.

I shall also soon (within the next couple of weeks, or possibly earlier) start to serialize my Ancient of Days fantasy stories (similar in some ways to what might be called Swords and Sorcery fantasy tales, but more mythological in nature). These will be the tales that revolve around the character Solimar.

Also while at the library today I coincidentally (if you believe in that kind of thing) ran across several books on Fairy Tales and Folk Tales and Fables. Adjacent to a section I was browsing on history. One was a thick old book on Russian Fairy Tales (mostly weird and horrific ones) collected by Aleksander Afanasev. I got it immediately because it had several stories about Baba Yaga (or Babayaga if you prefer).

I have also been fascinated by Baba Yaga since I was a teen. For those who are unfamiliar with Baba Yaga she was an apparently ancient, cannibalistic witch, perhaps of Russian origin, perhaps of non-Russian or Slavic origins, who was possessed of weird powers, lived in an enchanted, mobile home (her home could magically move about if she wished), was terrifying in appearance and was greatly feared by the Russians and Russian children.

Back then I read stories of Baba Yaga (being first introduced to her by a set of obscure references in Gary Gygax’s Advanced D&D books) as I could find them. They fascinated me, though at first I couldn’t say why.

Only later, in my twenties, did I begin to realize that she was, in fact, one of the first modern-era references in Folk literature to what was obviously a serial killer. In this specific case primarily a cannibalistic pedophilic serial killer who liked to keep trophies from her victims and eat them after she had used them for whatever purposes pleased her best at the moment. As a matter of fact only after I began to hunt killers myself did I fully realize just how much of a true pre-cursor Baba Yaga was to many modern serial killers, or at least to the most depraved of modern serial killers. She was in fact a sort archetypal Folk Lore version profile of a typical highly-organized, trophy-keeping, cannibalistic serial killer. For that reason alone (although she was possessed of many other odd and unusual capabilities and traits) she has fascinated me ever since I read my first tale of her.

She would lure her victims, primarily children, to an isolated locale with which she was familiar and in which she could operate easily and without fear of being either discovered or interfered with, enchant or drug or incapacitate her victims, abduct them, and then use them as she pleased (usually involving some type of torture or imprisonment) until she murdered them and ate the corpses. Thereafter she would often keep trophies of her victims.

Those who wrote these tales would not have described her in those terms obviously (as a serial killer – though I seriously doubt that I am the first modern person to develop the theory that Baba Yaga was a serial killer) but in fact that was what she was. Or that is what these tales of her were describing at least. And I suspect that these tales were in fact nothing but a very early recounting of one or more individuals (probably female, but maybe a male disguising himself as female, or even possibly a team of killers – the Three Sisters) who were so crafty and so good at their murderous work that their killings seemed almost supernatural to those recounting their exploits. (And they were maliciously exploiting others.)

To tell you the truth I have myself long considered writing my own set of Baba Yaga stories aimed at youth (say between the ages of 8 and 14 to perhaps even 16 years old) which would contain a twist. Yes, Baba Yaga would still be a supernatural witch, she would have a male assistant or slave to help her lure, abduct, and try to kill and cannibalize her victims, yes her victims would still be exposed to horrific and bizarre events and dangers (some natural, some supernatural) but in each story the intended victims would either defeat her plans, thwart their own murders, rescue others, or escape to tell their tale.

The reason being that each tale will be a coded-story designed to train children against the typical lures and tactics employed by serial killers and other criminals who like to trick and abduct children (extortionists, hostage takers, those involved in the sex slave, child gang runners, warlords, etc.). At the end of each story I will review how the children escaped or avoided capture by the witch and what any child could do to successfully augment and practice their own personal security awareness and to increase their odds of survival and escape if they were to ever be abducted.

So yes, I will approach the tales as children’s folk and horror fiction tales but each tale will have encoded in it avoidance, escape, and evasion security and survival methods embedded within the plot.

After reading these new Russian folk tales I may then start writing my Baba Yaga stories.

For now though I will continue to work on my novel and short stories and preparing one of my non-fiction books for publication.

But I am very much looking forward to writing the things I just discussed in the post above. Starting tomorrow.

Good night folks.