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Culture, Interviews, Lifestyle, Opinion, Podcast, Tech, Why Aren't You Watching This?

September 6, 2017

Welcome to the third episode of Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

We are glad you are spending some time with us.

Your hosts Anne Honeycutt and Aaron Golden really appreciate you.

This episode features two interviews, a talk between Anne and Aaron about the current creative Zeitgeist and a piece of music created by wonderful creatives.

September is not only Fringe month but it is also a great time to reconnect with people and community and also celebrate the technology we use to do that.

So, this episode is all about how technology creatives help us learn about and build up our communities!

http://livingmythmedia.libsyn.com/living-myth-magazine-podcast-episode-3-september-2017

Interview 1:

NEARTUIT – HOW INTERACTIVE MAPS HELP CREATIVES CURATE AND EXPLORE ART with Judy Hamilton

Judy Hamilton of TerraTap and her Chief Technological Officer created Neartuit which is an interactive map system that automatically tells you cool things about a cool thing when you get close to the cool thing. They have been helping creatives and curators around the Greater Vancouver Area create interactive smart phone friendly content that allows the consumer to be informed and delighted.

Here are links to download the apps onto your tiny hand sized computers!

http://www.neartuit.com/app/

You can also see their work on display at The City Of New Westminster Museum & Archives  and at The New Media Gallery

Interview 2:

PLAYPALS THE FIRST APP YOU CAN USE TO TABLETOP GAME WITH EVERYONE with Arik Sternbeg

Jalyn Euteneier of our 0D20 property interviews Arik Stenberg about PlayPals and the importance of building community through gaming. When this interview was recorded in July the app was a few weeks old, but now it is September and it is doing AMAZING!

Here are links to download the apps onto your tiny hand sized computers

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.play_pals

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/playpals-discover-local-tabletop-game-events/id1207049719?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

 

Then…

Anne and Aaron talk about Sarahah and how Anne and Avens O’Brien have used it to become better people and/or interact with fans.

As promised we have set up one for the magazine and podcast network. https://livingmythmag.sarahah.com/

The end music for this month was suggested to us by the Vancouver Chipmusic Society and it is called Half Steppin’ and it is by virt, Freaky DNA and Norrin Radd

 

And there we have it, thanks so much for spending time with us!

Do you like what you heard? Do you want us to celebrate your creativity creatively? Drop us a line at podcasts@livingmythmedia.com and Anne will totally get back to you 😀

 

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632

Tell Me Your Nightmares! First Show… Post Mortem…

Comedy, Culture, Events, LMM Live, Podcast, Showcase, Tell Me Your Nightmares

July 21, 2017

Hi!

This is Anne… and I want to say thank you to all who helped make the show amazing. Thanks to our sponsors! (Catscapades, Game Deals, Story Story Lie, Netherworld Collectibles, ZeroD20, Tinder Tales, The Sugar Lounge, Radioactive Nerd, Pandora’s Locks, The Fictionals, Aaron Golden, DarkLake Tarot, Big Pete’s, B-Bombshell Salon, Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours, Fandom Feud, Instant Theatre Company, Seven Dining Lounge) Thanks to our guest (JJ Webb) and thanks to the live band (The Skeleton Crew).

We had a great time and more importantly, we feel confident enough to say that we have booked shows for September and October with great new bands and awesome guests. So stay tuned for more information on that front…

Please, enjoy some pictures from the show and also… a sneak preview of some of the podcast that we will be putting out.

Abbey St. Brendan, Anne Honeycutt, JJ Webb and Aaron Golden listening to Abbey read a short story about a little girl who becomes possessive of her nightmare. Photo Credit by Peter Joseph

Audience Nightmare Submitter Hiding their face while laughing. Photo Credit by Peter Joseph

Abbey, Anne and JJ talking to WOW! That Is Crazy Dream Contest Winner. Photo Credit By Peter Joseph

Pajama Contest! Photo Credit By Peter Joseph

 

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405

Living Myth Magazine Podcast – Episode 1 – July 2017

Culture, Podcast

July 2, 2017

Welcome to the first episode of Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

We are glad you are spending some time with us.

Your hosts Anne Honeycutt and Aaron Golden really appreciate you.

This episode features two interviews, a short story and a piece of music created by wonderful creatives.

Interview 1:

FAMILIES ACROSS CANADA with Jo Dworschak

The great adventure of Jo Dworschak and her son Luke starts on Canada’s 150th birthday in St. John’s, Newfoundland. From there they will find their way back to Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s an 86 hour drive! Along the way, they’ll be seeking diverse families to meet with. Collecting stories and connecting Canadians from coast to coast!.

You can hear more about this project and support Jo and Luke by liking their Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/ohmanshow/

Website: https://familiesacrosscanada.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/familiesacrosscanada/

And finally, donate to their GoFundMe! They need gas money: https://www.gofundme.com/familiesacrosscanada

You can also contact them to tell them they are doing great or to meet up with them so that your family can share their story by emailing Jo at jo.dworschak@gmail.com

 

Interview 2:

ZEROD20 with Jalyn Euteneier

ZeroD20 is an inclusive “representation matters” tabletop gaming podcast franchise that recently started a collaboration with Living Myth Magazine. They have plans to be at Geek Girl Con (https://geekgirlcon.com/) this year in Seattle and want to make the gaming world a better place for all.

You can follow them on the internet using the following!

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/ZeroD20

Twitter: @zerod20_

Website: http://www.zerod20.com/

and you can support their Kickstarter Campaign!

Our Short Story Feature This Month

Take You Home by Abbey St. Brendan which will be available to read in its entirety along with the full audio read by Michael McIntyre on July 13th (Link to be added when the story drops)

And last but not least! Our Featured Song!

She Waits by Andrew Mockler

You can get all the news on show dates and how to purchase his music on http://www.andrewmockler.com/  also feel free to follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andrewmocklermusic/

Do you like what you heard? Do you want us to celebrate your creativity creatively? Drop us a line at podcasts@livingmythmedia.com and Anne will totally get back to you 😀

 

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343

Fiction: Goblin King Rising

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

June 23, 2017

Below the homes and below the streets there is a place where vermin dream, where castoffs live and work and breathe – where nothing is what it seems. Here is where the worst go to thrive, where fever dreams are kept alive. The hidden and mad go to ground and sunlight is beaten, broken, drowned.
The Get of Kingu conquered myth and tale, they devastated the sacred veil, bound those creatures to a treaty and placed their children in the Undercity. Down and down go these black roads and the secret stories only they know, the powers that were left to linger smothering every light bringer. Blood is shed and shadows swell and no one knows where bodies fell, they hold their secrets and this truth, they hold the end and blackened youth.
Some children of Kingu live down there, those whose power inspires fear – not powerful enough to hold their own they retreat into the dark and live alone. Or so they think and learn to dread, for here terror lives in waking heads – waking hours offer no respite and sanity doesn’t seem so right. The consequences of taking seed are the children no one ever needs and they are shoved down and left to die but still they breathe and still they strive.
From continents that were torn undone come those who fear the sun, eating dead flesh left to rot; and though they’re here you’d swear they’re not. Their tunnels are below your feet and all around you unseen they creep, a breath on shoulder never felt, the dead their only source of wealth. They fear the living and feed on death, bones knitted beneath their flesh – and though you might think you’re safe there is no escape from that which waits.
But worse that those that feed on death are those that seek to surcease breath, those that bathe in battle’s gore, they born from atrocity and war. Grey skinned they look and ill, muscle like wire driven by will, hair a pale fluttered gray until their knives cut away. It’s pain that feeds them and makes them rise, bathing in viscera freed by knives, covered in insides still steaming, devouring they that die screaming.
From emerald isles across a pond they came, for those called snakes they were to blame, their crimes carried beyond those who could to exile those who understood. Yet down in the dark they found a place and one born of them is their face, a champion anointed upon her brow, called Falciamar she stands unvowed. Her people are the Dearg Capini, the ones who rage and ravage cities, like bomb and mortar they come to kill, like knife and spear with blood to spill.
Yet even they respect the whispering dark, where the Sluagh perfect their art. Led by a coven steeped in rite and never caring for the light; the Sluagh dwell in the darkest places with rarely seen yet pale faces, gaunt and tragic and sunk of eye, they whisper hushes and terrible lies. How could you stand their gaze, they who see the ghostly ways? How could you find their meaning in whispered chalk scratch quiet screaming?
Below them all, the furthest down, the children of Mountain built their town. Brilliant and tied to the core of earth, strong as boulders below the dirt. They stand alone and they stand apart, gifting aid with their art, and those that come on bended knee can here find what they might need.
And past them all and past the stair, there’s one who stands everywhere – the one hunted broke on olden moors, of murmuring madness – the Lord of Doors.
Feeding on scraps and always in danger are the ones their gods made strangers; forever outside and never trusted, their existence makes other disgusted. Call them Goblins if you must, but whisper the word and check the dust. For while they walk about unseen they leave tracks in what’s not clean. So it’s said and so I’ve been told, and wisdom is age and I’m quite old.
They were hunted, hated, and cast down, unwanted by all in the undertown. Staying quite far and staying quite hidden, keeping their secrets and always unbidden. Outside of company and outside the light, not one soul trusting them to be right, their children in the darkness hide and sometimes you can hear them cry to lay the groundwork that others might grieve, so they might betray those who believe.
Give not a Goblin sympathy, for your slavery is what makes them free.
And to this fell Academy came two more Goblin children, two supposed innocents come to be better villains. They stepped into the southern lands and found someone to take by the hand, and one child trusted and one did not, and one become a slave while the other did not. They were not brothers, not age old friends, but Goblins learn to themselves defend, for they are weak and sad when young and those who took them were quite strong.
There is a place above the Undercity, the Academy where walk the pretty, and some of them seek to enslave others and revel in breaking one another. One trusting child to the breaking was took, the other beaten and left bleeding shook – that one escaped down into the dark, to mend the flesh that had been cut apart.
Maricurius was this Goblin’s name, and at that moment he did not know the game. He knew only that a child had been taken and that no one cared and so his soul was shaken. Not even the other Goblins cared, not even when they were made aware that one of their own had been taken for pleasure, that the shattered soul would be another’s treasure.
He begged for food that was not given and stole scraps and rags and plotted sedition: if none would help him save his own he’d venture forth and do it alone. He stole a knife from Falciamar’s pack and ran without looking back. He struggled for food and struggled to eat, found cracked concrete in which to sleep, stole old blankets and stole clothes, stole what he needed to the system oppose.
Stepping into the light he walked unseen, using a Goblin’s gift to fit the scene to scout the place where slaves were taken without alerting any of this break-in. He saw what was done and he saw the locks, he saw as much as he could without shock. He left the place and wretched and sobbed, but then he stood and his tears did daub.
“This is wrong and this will not stand. There must be one to lend a hand.”
But Goblins stand apart and are not to be born, and everyone knew they were forsworn.
He went to the pariahs who hid from their kin, but even they despised what he’d been. He went to the ones who ate the dead and was chased beyond the watershed, down into the depths and into the tunnels, escaping through the sewage funnel.
From there he went to Mountain’s children and they were not pleased with a guest unbidden. “At least that one’s wanted,” they said and smiled, “perhaps you should think on that awhile.” Dejected, he walked towards the slaughter where ruled war’s atrocious daughter. Falciamar saw he carried her knife and hunted him to take his life. He offered it back and offered his breath if she would but follow him into death, but even she would not take his oath and he escaped barely and still alone.
He next sought out the Lord of Doors and pleaded his case without succor. His own people would not give aid and no other could ever be so brave. And so Maricurius went alone to the place with a Goblin’s unseen grace; he steeled himself against every terror and caught the guards unaware. He fought and stabbed and found whom was lost, but too late and too late and life was the cost; all that rage and all that hate and because he was alone he’d come too late.
Dejected, despairing, he walked in lands of light, turning to the Academy’s center in the night. There, every name is writ on a wall and beside every name is a title to call, and Maricurius found to his surprise that his actions had made his name rise – someone was watching and someone approved of what he’d done in the interfluve.
That judge had placed him above his kin, had raised him as Goblins had never been. He stared and stared and got to asking how Goblins had lived in the masking – had they always lived in fear, or was there a life he could commandeer? He walked south towards stacks of books and peered in tomes and in finding looked:
A time had passed when Goblins stood without being beaten, and this time had been in every land and season. What happened was a story worthy of operetta, a tale of woe and bloody vendetta. There’d been a time when Goblins accepted hate, but those that acted upon it met their fate – a Goblin killed meant another life lost as Goblins sought vengeance regardless of cost.
This had ended when the others wanted peace and signed a treaty to make all sides cease the slaughter carried from generations towards a final destination. His people remembered what others forgot, but they’d broken their promise and the Goblins had not. He turned from the book to the knife in his hand, the knife that he’d taken and taken again.
So he moved away from the books and away from that treaty and took all his rage to the Undercity, and there he listened to Goblin’s cries and when he heard those that caused them died. He killed while being hidden and was never seen and the murderous debt was wiped clean, and other Goblins took note of his skill and bound themselves to follow his will.
It did not take long for the others to learn that when you kill a Goblin it’s you that gets burned, and when they sought to attack en masse they found that the Goblins had vanished and passed; who can fight an enemy you cannot see? Can you adapt when bullying is not free?
Maricurius threw the Undercity into uproar, where the powers that be weren’t powers anymore. “Why should there be a price for what we’ve always done? Why disturb what has always been fun? Don’t they know it’s meant to be this way? Why do those we hurt think they’ve something to say?” Abusers do not like to admit doing wrong and do not like to admit they are weak and not strong. The Goblins had found a better way to live and the Undercity shivered to find them combative.
“The natural order has been disturbed, the social contract and unwritten word – why can’t things go back to what they were, when Goblins trembled and we were assured that our way was true and our power was just, when we could satisfy more than lust? How can we show them back to their place when we can no longer see their face? The Goblins are missing, the Goblins are gone, and all this social disruption is wrong.”
Down and down and deeper to Mountain’s children, these abusers now turned their vision. They sought answers in the iron way but those children had nothing to say; they were not willing to pay the Goblin debt, the promise that was as much a threat.
“But your inventions could find the Goblins, yes?”
“Perhaps, but we now know what would come next.”
And Mountain’s children show the signs of pact, the vow’s markings on their back. The Goblins had gone into the depths first and there they’d bargained for what they were worth; Mountain’s children would not interfere and the others were angry to cover their fear.
The Slaugh wailed in their quiet way and turned their magic to saving the day, but they had more and more to dread as the Goblin price promised bloodshed. They could not scream above a whisper when Goblins came from yon and hither and they could not slip from Goblin eyes, whose irises saw through illusions and lies. The shadows could not offer safety but still they thought their secrets may be the way for them to stave off death and rob the Goblins of their breath.
Down in the darkest places they gathered, the coven using fell magics to shatter the will the Goblins had finally found and drive their hopes into the ground, but they never saw the flashing knives that slit their throats and took their lives. Maricurius stood among the dead and demanded that the Slaugh be led – that he would take them under his protection or kill them all for their provocation. And so the Goblin promise accepted, written in flesh and now protected.
“Finally,” said Falciamar of the Dearg Capini, “we have a target in the Undercity.” She led her people against the Slaugh’s kin and with ragged knives they opened skin, bathed in blood and wore their guts and fed their rage fueled by bloodlust, but Maricurius was as good as his word and came to the aid of those put to the sword. Goblins appeared around the Dearg Capini and slaughtered war’s children without pity.
“No, no, step out of where you strike and are hidden,” Falciamar demanded the Goblins be bidden. “Fight fair as I demand and come fight me now, there is no other outcome that I’ll allow!”
Yet the world was silent except for the killing, and the Dearg Capini found their courage slipping. The war was fought with savage pride and they that were mighty were barely alive. When Falciamar next demanded a duel for pact, Maricurius stepped out from where he’d been hidden at last.
“I accept your duel and here are the stakes – if I win then your people must hold and wait until I am dead or until I am gone, your people will slumber, your violence withdrawn.”
“Yes and alright, I accept your terms,” Falciamar said and was about to learn. She drew her sword and washed blood in her hair and so came fighting awake and aware, but Maricurius could not be seen and how does violence fight a dream? He cut her down over hours and hours, slicing her flesh and her fury devoured, but it was not until he threatened to her dismember that she accepted the terms of surrender.
She would face exile into nightmares and screams, her madness haunting sleeping seams – for so long as he ruled and drew breath she would not inflict any more death. Non-interference was the invocation that was demanded by the Goblin nation and Falciamar’s sole choice was to accept and so was driven without recompense.
And now Maricurius came to the eaters of death to discuss the matters of shibboleth. Their leader was a creature who’d learned to think ahead, sometimes taking those who were not quite dead and letting them stay chained and crude until his people needed them for food. Had Maricurius anything to offer they could not take, with patience and jaws and the promise of fate?
“Yes, I have, an offer you’d like,” Maricurius said, putting down his knife. “Bodies to be brought to you should you keep to yourselves, a zero-risk investment of your only wealth. And if you listen to what else I have planned there is no door from which you will be banned.” Curious, the death eaters listened to the plan and took Maricurius by the hand, agreeing to his idea and his terms and fading from sight not to return.
But of the dangers there was one more – the madness called the Lord of Doors.
Maricurius was going to see the wall that had inspired him to change the all, but that meant passing through the frame and that was when I took his name; your narrator was splintered on ancient moors, called Fhioscath to some and the Lord of Doors, and there was none that could stay my hand and my attention turns clay to sand.
He stepped from one place to another and was robbed of all his brothers, all he’d done and all he’d built taken as a sign of guilt. I surrounded him and him alone and kept him from his deserved throne, peering long into his mind and so all he’d hidden I would find – the eyes are doorways to the soul and thought a place where I might stroll.
I stepped inside all Maricurius could ever be and what I found set neither of us at ease – my wanderings had driven others insane but he just stood and learned my name. We walked through all his memories and came to know accessories; he would kill and he would in blood bathe to make a world he felt worthy to save and through his will this is what he’d done, a feat dreamed but never done.
How could I stand in the way of this? I anointed him with my kiss and brought him to the blackened wall where we saw his name would never fall; I promised that I would sleep so long as his will defined the deep. He was lord and he had risen, breaking what had been a cultural prison and from the grime and gore and gritty become the Goblin King of the Undercity.

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334

Fiction – World of Mercedes Ketch – From the Wheel

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

June 16, 2017

Keira stared at the hourglass shaped board in front of her, considering her options. She’d used a Surcess Opening, had been surprised when her opponent had not followed suit – she had thought he was planning something she might not expect but had found his subsequent moves efficient but easy to predict. It was a dangerous weakness to expose in a place such as this.

They were playing in the living room of an apartment in the eastern part of the Sengri Academy. She was Keira Turn, a recognized genius with dangerous friends. He was Lucio Amadus, the younger of twins, and it was his sister that had set this appointment in an effort to socialize her brother. Keira hadn’t liked the sister but had done her the favor anyway, mostly to sate her own curiosity.

Kinguim children were typically raised by their parents or by their parent’s servants, taught the rudiments of the world and left to discover what they wanted to on their own before coming to one of the six Academies at the age of nine. There, her people learned to harness the divinity in their blood and learn what it was to be the Get of Kingu.

One of the first things they learned was that there was no law against murder, either among the adult Kinguim or among their children here at this school. Within the first week, they were marched over to the Trypper’s Tower, where a withered old man named Pitch taught them that their souls would always return to bodies with Kinguim blood. He even showed them a method to see this happen, so there could be no doubt.

Keira had trembled, helpless to do anything but watch as Pitch slit the throat of two grown men from the outside world. They had been collected for just this purpose: the Adama had been screaming for mercy, but the Kinguim had smiled at the assembled children, had waved at them before Pitch killed him.

It wasn’t the first time Keira had seen someone die and it wouldn’t be the last. She’d likely see the exercise repeated that afternoon. It was just that she’d never seen someone willingly go to the slaughter like that.

Pitch showed them how to watch, to trick their eyes into seeing the soul of a thing. Five hundred children had gasped when the weak soul of the Adama fell apart and drifted away like flotsam on an ocean tide, but the soul of the Kinguim began to glow sapphire blue, sinking into a shimmering net to await a body to inhabit.

She’d been there when Lucia and Lucio Amadus had been exposed to this horror and neither of them had flinched. She wondered how Carmen would react, her finger tracing a path along the edge of the table upon which the board was set as she tried to distract herself from the time and studied her opponent and his consideration.

There was a piece in this game that could only eliminate other pieces. It was a useful piece but it was unable to touch the me, and thus unable to affect the single means by which the highest amount of points that could be collected. It was meant to show that murder was useful but ultimately wasteful. She could reach over the snap his neck and no one would punish her. The sister would be mad, but Keira could kill her, too. She knew that would make her enemies, make people wary of her, and that she would die at the hands of the Amadus line. Instead, she studied his slight frown, his narrowed eyes.

He was cute and of West African descent, younger than her but brilliant, younger than the person she was waiting for, his fingers thrumming a gentle constant rhythm that mirrored his decisions. She had offered to put on some kind of music but he’d asked her not to, favoring the soft percussion of his fingers. She might have found it annoying had his talent for music not far exceeded his talent for Rafael.

“It’s five minutes since the last time you checked,” Lucio said, not looking up from the board. She bit her lip, took a deep breath.

“There’s someone coming today,” Keira said, watching his fingers keep their steady pattern. She was eleven years old and he was eight but very bright, and the girl coming today would be all of nine. “Someone I’m looking forward to seeing very much.

“A sister?” Lucio asked, looking up, a flicker of interest passing through his features.

“My sister is older than I am,” Keira answered. He nodded sympathy; Lucia was, Keira had been given to understand, thirty-six minutes older than Lucio. Their parents had not been expecting twins. Keira knew this because she was inquisitive and liked to know things about the people she was going to have to deal with and she expected Lucio to ask her questions about her sister or the person coming.

He didn’t.

Sitting, silent, he stared at the board and considered his next move. She could understand why the parents Amadus had sent their kids to the Academy so early. Lucia was gifted at getting people to do what she wanted, so much so that Keira now sat here playing Rafael with this strange boy. Lucio himself was a gifted mathematician and she could see how that played into his decisions even upon the hourglass between them.

Both twins liked music and languages. Lucia wielded all three like weapons. Lucio seemed to love them for their own sake, but there was an alienness to their gifts that frightened some of the other Kinguim. Keira was not so afraid; she, too, had talents that set her apart even from those with divinity in their blood, and while she did not like Lucia she felt a strange kinship for Lucio, a kinship the parents of these twins had not felt.

Lucia had told her all about it. For his part, Lucio seemed glad to be rid and distant from them.

For his part, Lucio seemed glad to be rid and distant from them.

He made a move. She countered. He frowned, staring at the board, moved again. She boxed him in. The two of them were still experimenting with the nuances of the game, both getting a feel for what the game said about themselves and one another. She offered Lucio’s scowl a shy smile, moved another piece.

She was thinking of trying the sport later that year, trying her hand at joining one of the wings that represented the school. There was power that came with being a celebrity but there was risk in becoming a public figure and she wasn’t sure yet how to balance the two. She wasn’t even sure what position she would try out for – a searcher, maybe?

Biting her lip, she checked the time again.

“Six minutes,” he muttered, staring at the board, frustration beat out in the gentle pounding of his fingers. He looked up at the ceiling, never once meeting her eyes, the hand not drumming on the table running through a complex pattern that she realized were all the moves he’d made so far. “I’d say your mind is elsewhere, but…”

“I’ve got a head for games.”

“Ya-huh.”

He moved again and this time she started eliminating his pieces, removing them from the board as she made her way towards his me. He struggled, but she could see his patterns now and was able to counter them – she wondered what he’d be like in a full game, but they had agreed on single rounds today, feeling one another out, getting to know one another and the game itself.

“My plan should have worked,” he said, once all his pieces were gone.

“You’re looking for perfect games,” Keira responded, “and you’re looking at the most amount of direct movement. You’re playing like a mathematician.”

“Aren’t you?”

“No.”

“She’s looking to win.” Keira had a small apartment all to herself and she had made only two spare keys. One dangled on her chest, safely kept in waiting. The other belonged to the newcomer, a boy she’d known since childhood. His name was Christian Kennedy.

He was a tall boy, skim, filling out nicely as puberty set in. He wore his hair long, white pants and gray shirt, eyes gray and cold and patient, snake eyes, the sort of eyes that should have been a warning. He moved like he owned the world, opening her fridge and grabbing a drink, looking over at the hourglass as Lucio reset the pieces.

“You weren’t even here,” Lucio muttered. “How could you know that?”

“Because I know the two of you,” Christian answered. He grabbed some glasses from Keira’s cabinet, poured another couple drinks for Keira and her guest, all the time acting as if it were his home that they were in and not hers. He looked at Keira as he offered her the drink, giving her a smile that was anything but shy as he nodded towards the board. “Do the thing you do.”

She kept her face neutral as she turned to the board, silently asking permission from Lucio. He hesitated for only a moment, but his love of language extended to the silent words of stance and breath and he moved back, nodding.

Christian saying do the thing you do was a code; he was uncertain how to pronounce the word eidetic and probably couldn’t spell it, either, but he knew that Keira’s memory was exactly that and loved to take advantage of such. She went through the game they had just played, move for move, Christian studying the changing hourglass until the game she and Lucio had just played reached the ending.

“It’s weakness,” Christian laughed, sitting down on a chair between the two of them as he leaned in close to Lucio, careful not to touch him. “You think you’re playing with set equations, but the game is algebra.”

“Algebra?” Lucio frowned.

“You know what you wanna do and you know you want to win,” Christian explained, leaning back with a pleased smile. Tonelessly, tunelessly, he began to tap his feet on the floor. “What you don’t know is what she’s going to do, but you think you do and so you’re playing a game that suits what you think instead of what is. Solve for x.”

“I don’t understand.” Lucio actually looked him in the eye. “Isn’t that what we all do?”

“No,” Christian shrugged. “Everyone plays this game differently. I’ve only seen you do that, which isn’t good or bad, but it’s your perfection that kills you. Anything that’s perfect is perfect for a single moment in time. Then it stops and becomes imperfect. Like, what were their names?”

“The Verenes.”

“Them,” Christian nodded, thanking her for remembering the object lesson when it came to failing despite the divinity of Kingu’s blood. “Don’t assume you know what another person is going to do, or what their game is. And don’t have any set game yourself. It’s easier to break a rock than it is to break water.”

“I don’t understand,” Lucio repeated. Christian turned to Keira, frowning, wondering if he was explaining this wrong. Now it was her turn to shrug, she moving and letting the other boy take her seat.

“Okay, tell you what… we’re gonna play a game, and then I’m going to walk you through why I’m doing what I’m doing and you’ll do the same, okay? Or you can just ask questions. Whatever you’re cool with.”

“You said okay twice.” Lucio’s eyes narrowed as he focused on the hourglass “You’re up to something.”

“Yes, but nothing malicious.” Christian smiled, making a steeple of his fingers and looking past them at the small genius sitting across from him. “Trust me.”

They started playing. Christian began explaining his actions at first, but quickly let those explanations slip when it became obvious that Lucio was not paying attention to them. Keira watched for a few more minutes as Christian began breaking his wing down, taking control of the board and smothering anything that Lucio tried.

“Do you even have a plan?” Lucio asked, frowning at the board and trembling.

“No,” Keira answered, Christian grinning and silent. “I reacted to your moves and forced you into circumstances that worked for me. He’s looking for weaknesses in your moves and then crumbling the support you’re using. You’re ignoring us both in favor of claiming the me.”

“Start trying to solve for x,” Christian added, resting his hands behind his head. “Don’t forget that your opponent is part of the equation, so you need to know your opponent to win. I like to think of it as turning numbers into fractions and breaking them down. That make sense, genius?”

“No.” Lucio actually growled.

“Well, we’ll let you think on it,” Christian said, standing up. He offered Keira a hand, smiling. She didn’t take it, and that just made him smile more. “C’mon, she’s nearly here.”

“Lucio…” Keira began, standing, but Christian cut her off.

“Let him stay and study the board,” he said. “We’ll be gone, what, an hour? Two?”

“Fine,” Keira muttered, not happy about leaving the strange boy in her home unattended.

“It’ll be fine,” Christian said. “Don’t burn the place down or anything.”

“I won’t,” Lucio said, his voice serious and his eyes not leaving the board. “Thank you.”

Keira thought about saying something, but bit her tongue and grabbed her jacket and sword, following Christian as he buckled his blade around his hips and stepped out the door before cursing herself, hurrying up to stand beside him instead. If I follow him, it looks like he’s in charge, she thought, if I stand in front of him, I’m exposing my back. Neither option was good; the best option was to stand beside him and hope for the best.

She didn’t lock her door, and her keys felt heavy in her pocket the further she moved away. She risked a glance back and Christian noticed, chuckling softly to himself.

“You really think he’s a risk?” Christian asked. “I mean, his sister maybe, but him?”

“I notice you’re in no hurry to leave people alone in your home,” Keira said, pleased with the primness in her tone.

“If it were him, I might,” Christian replied, shrugging. “Besides, we’ll know if he did anything.” Keira stared at him, the two of them continuing to walk.

“Did you leave bugs in my home?”

“No more than usual,” Christian grinned. That’s not a good answer, she thought. “No more than you have bugs in mine. And if he bugs your home, well, that tells us something about him and his sister.”

“And you’re willing for me to take that risk on your behalf?”

“No, no at all,” Christian said. “You have better self-control than I do, so if they do bug your home – and it would be the sister, not the brother, that would do that – you’re the one more suited to feeding them false information.”

“It’s still a risk.”

“Certainly,” Christian laughed. “But save the conversation – it’ll be a good introduction for our good friend, maybe help instill a healthy paranoia.”

“As if Pitch’s welcoming display won’t do that.”

“There’s a difference between a healthy paranoia and fear.”

“Fear? You?” Keira scoffed, kicking at a stray rock and watching it bounce ahead of them. “You’re staying behind to help check the place.”

“I’ll even grab dinner,” Christian nodded, agreeing. “Besides, it’ll be good to catch up with Carm and see where her head is at.”

They walked in silence for a time, watching the alleys and side streets, but no one seemed to be paying them any serious attention.

“You really think you’ll learn anything?” Keira asked.

“Not really, but it’s the thought that counts.” Christian slipped his hands into his pockets, a sign that he thought they were in no danger. “Besides, neither of us are that important, not yet.”

“Your brother runs the Academy.” Keira kept vigilant, her eyes on the people around them, a greater number of them heading south to greet the newcomers. “And your brother knows you, knows what you’re capable of.”

“Yes, well, I know him, too,” Christian shrugged. “Can you believe he’s not in charge? The Halkett Bloc. Pah. Have you ever even heard Jay speak? All he does is shoot things and look intimidating and wave that empty gun of his around.”

“I saw him shoot someone once,” Keira said, shuddering. She remembered the crack of the pistol, the way the teacher had fallen twitching to the floor.

“Let me guess,” Christian muttered. “No bullet was found, the wound was worse than it should have been?”

Keira nodded.

“Yeah,” Christian sighed, looking around. “Jay shoots entropy. Not sure if that’s something he inherited from his father or a gift of Kingu.”

“He’s not of the Old Blood.”

“It’s not just the Old Blood that sometimes have Kingu’s gifts,” Christian said. “And there’s other powers, like whatever Pitch is. Or Ashley.”

“I’m not scared of the elf,” Keira growled, fingers tightening around the hilt of her rapier. “Our people already conquered his. His being here is proof of that.”

“Right,” Christian smirked. “Nothing to worry about, then. And as for my brother, well, he’s got other things to worry about right now and I’m not exactly rattling a saber in his direction. He’ll leave me alone right now. Priorities and all that.”

They continued to walk south in silence, covering one another’s blind spots, keeping one another safe as the crowd got larger. There were maybe a few hundred people around them now and they kept towards the back of the platform where the Aswasi’atar would come, their backs to pillars in a small and defensible alcove.

Both of them knew that the chances of being attacked here were small. There were traditions that spoke against violence around the Aswasi’atar and there were eroseeqhi – Kinguim sorcerers – whose duty included the enforcing of those traditions. Challenging a sorcerer in his home was not a good idea, and breaking a tradition without good cause was a good way to draw all sorts of bad attention.

None of that made that tradition a law, though, and there were those that would risk anything to get what they wanted.

“How long has it been since you’ve seen her?” Christian asked. “A year?”

“You’ve been here as long as I have,” Keira said, shuffling and nervous, staring at the place the Aswasi’atar would come to. The eroseeqhi had already gathered, drawing their etchings on the ground, lighting candles and incense to keep the ground holy.

“Your memory is better than mine.”

“What? Yes. A year. It’s been a year.”

“Nine-year-old Carmen Rosencratz,” Christian said, crossing his arms and leaning back against the pillar. “This should be interesting.”

Keira wasn’t sure what to say to that and so said nothing. There was a smugness to her ally that she often found grating, and this was one of those times. She wanted to hit him but swallowed the bile in her throat and the rustling in her belly – they needed one another, their alliance a mutually beneficial one that had worked out well since they had been children.

Purple-pink mist began to swelter out of the aether on the platform and an excited muttering began to waft through the crowd. The massive and shining black scales of the Aswasi’atar began to solidify out of nothing, the creature pulled out of the soul of the planet and made real. The eroseeqhi approached the creature as it faded from dream to flesh, using hand signs and words that crawled along the skin like spiders, lifting scales the size of cars up and open and revealing the people within.

A gaggle of nine-year-olds spilled out of the creature that had brought them here, brushing past the Aswasi’atar. Some returning students, older than the others, also made their way out – they all looked much more certain, pushing past the assembled children without paying them any heed.

Keira scanned the mass, looking for any sign of the girl that was more precious to her than anything else in the world, but all the kids were dressed in shades of purple and few of them carried anything from the world outside. Their parents would have warned them about standing out in the early days, Keira knew – her parents had done the same. It was important to be invisible until you had some place to retreat to once those you never wanted to notice you, did.

“Do you think you’ll spot her with that thing you do?” Christian asked. Keira grit her teeth and ignored him; he knew full well that wasn’t how an eidetic memory worked but he also liked to tease out the weaknesses of others and she wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction.

Instead, she kept silent and continued to scan the crowd, in this instance no more skilled than anyone else might be when looking for someone important to them. She knew Carmen had always been on the small side, the slight side, and a small slight pretty girl coming alone to a place like this was a scary thing.

When she’d come here she and Christian had one another, had watched one another’s backs and had gotten themselves to the point where they were reasonably secure. The Amadus twins had come with one another and though their age had drawn interest, Lucia had been able to strike deals with people on the way in, deals that had served her well.

There’s an ambitious creature, Keira thought, smiling. I wonder what Carm will think of her…?

Most children coming to the Academy would have at least one ally, but Carmen’s difficulties kept her isolated mostly. The only people that she’d ever relied on that were her own age were Keira and Christian, and that was why Keira felt it important to be here and now and why Christian had come with her.

Carmen was all alone.

The crowd was noisy and nervous and a little scared. The eroseeqhi directed the kids away from the Aswasi’atar and the new arrivals would have had a chance to look over their pamphlets and maps and make their way to their new homes. Their parents and the pamphlets would have warned them to make alliances with others on the Aswasi’atar, to map a route to where they’d be living, to waste as little time as possible getting to the place they were supposed to be: Pitch’s people would be along in the morning to walk them through breakfast before taking them to the Trypper’s Tower to give them the same demonstration that still haunted Keira and had frightened Christian.

Better that, though, than some of the other horrors the Academy could offer. Custom kept people from attacking and nabbing the kids and the eroseeqhi would deal with violent offenders, but they could not be everywhere. Thomas Kiker, the person currently in charge of the slave pens, had some of his people here pretending to offer guidance to children that looked scared or lost. Keira could pick them out of the crowd easily enough, their smiling faces and gentle motions, the lies they spun to get kids to walk into the charnel house that Kiker called home.

She looked at the small groupings of frightened children that gathered around those faces, breathed a sigh of relief that she did not spy Carmen’s face among their number. She felt bad for that relief, though, and thought about saying something, doing something. There was a small girl with a cane who moved with halted half-steps, and the look on her face – the smile that curved her lips – was the saddest thing that Keira had ever seen, gratitude given to a slaver.

“Don’t,” Christian whispered, his hand brushing her shoulder. “They didn’t notice. We’re fine. There’s nothing we can do about it now.” She realized her hand had tightened around the hilt of her sword and she took a deep breath, slowly relaxing her fingers.

She realized her hand had tightened around the hilt of her sword and she took a deep breath, slowly relaxing her fingers.

A tug on her sleeve nearly made her jump out of her skin.

She turned, ready to draw her sword, a battle-cry dying on her lips as she took note of the person who now stood beside her, looking up at her.

“Keira?” asked Carmen, purple eyes wide. Her hair was a deep rust and she’d added a crimson streak to it, but she looked as good as ever had, looked better than she had in the dreams Keira told no one about.

“Carmen.” There was more warmth and wet in that single word than she’d meant to let out but in that moment she forgave herself. She let go of the sword, sweeping the small and slight frame into her arms, holding her, soaking in her scent. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

“I found you,” Carmen whispered, her fingers playing along Keira’s spine, her shoulders.

“Hey, I’m here, too,” Christian said. Keira let her friend go, let the two of them embrace as she took point, watching the milling crowd and some of the other people her own age who were watching with interest. She met their eyes, stared them down.

“We should leave,” Keira said. There was a milling group of five girls standing there, looking at them, girls that Keira didn’t recognize. Carmen let go of Christian.

“How do you always find us?” Christian grinned, ruffling Carmen’s hair as if she were a pet. It bothered Keira, the way Carmen pushed up into the ruffling.

Carmen had always been intuitive, always found her way around in the dark, always managed to catch up to people even when anyone else might have been lost. Her parents said it had something to do with her difficulties, but there was no sign of that in her eyes or stance right now and Keira had learned what to look for over long hours – a shadow in her eyes or a cruel twist to her lips or twitching fingers. Right now she was simply Carmen and that was all that mattered.

“I made some allies on the Aswasi’atar,” Carmen said, motioning at the five girls that were staring at them, looking nervous and fidgeting, keeping a polite distance from their small troika. Behind them, the eroseeqhi were preparing to send the Aswasi’atar on its way.

“Allies, eh?” Christian said, studying them with interest.

“I’m Keira,” Keira said, releasing her sword and stepping forward, keeping her tone polite and letting a little of the gratitude she felt slip in. “This is Christian. Who’re you?”

“My name is Michelle,” one of the girls said, pushing in front. She was pretty – some mix of European bloodlines, with an echo of the arrogance that Keira had come to associate with the Old Blood. “This is my bloc – Darcy, Jackie, Robin, and Helena.”

Keira smiled at the hubris of the statement; strong alliances at the Academy were called blocs: six individuals who tied their fates to one another, working to keep one another safe and further the interests of the group. Most people waited a year or two before committing to a bloc, if they ever did; she and Christian had been here almost two years now and the only close alliances they had made were with one another.

“You’re one shy of a bloc,” Christian noted, slipping his hands into his pockets and leaning back against the pillar, his eyes lazy and head tilted back.

He’s measuring them, Keira thought, looking for weakness.

“We make do,” the one named Jackie said, smiling. She had golden hair and a pretty face and stepped up with an easy familiarity. She was used to this, trained for this, and even at nine years old she was good at it. She drew attention like light attracting moths, but Keira had seen people more practiced at it than her and was able to turn away, to notice the way the small girl named Robin was staring at them, studying them with an intensity that mirrored Christian’s.

“It’s okay, guys,” Carmen said, but she had always been a little naive, a little confused, a failing inflicted on her by her unique circumstances.

“Your bloc,” Christian said, a lazy smile spreading across his lips without touching his eyes. He shook his head. “You just got here and you’re already talking blocs. You have any alliances? Know anyone else here worth knowing?”

“We have each other,” Michelle said, one hand on her hip, the other dangling uselessly by her side. “And we’re open to new faces.”

“There was someone on the Aswasi’atar that was following me,” Carmen said, tugging on Keira’s sleeve. “People my age, but they wanted… I had a feeling about them. When I ran I met these girls and they took me into their link.”

“You have a private link?” Keira asked, suspicious. “A whole link to yourselves?” That took a serious amount of wealth and pull, pacts with the eroseeqhi that were beyond the ability of even most Kinguim to grant. The sort of people that had their own links on the Aswasi’atar were dangerous and more than capable of setting up circumstances to fool poor slight girls who would already be nervous about coming here.

She thought about the people that had that sort of pull, the names of the Old Blood families cycling through her head. She didn’t know these girls, didn’t remember anyone of import named Michelle, didn’t know why someone just arrived would command the pull she clearly had on the other four girls.

“People that come here with a bloc in mind aren’t opening themselves up to new experiences,” Christian drawled, his tone keeping attention on him; she knew he was drawing their ire on purpose, letting her feel them out.

“We’re open to alliances,” Jackie said, her voice polite.

“What bloc are you?” Christian asked. “What title have you given yourselves?”

Michelle and Carmen both looked about to answer, but Keira realized who they were and beat them to the revelation, speaking the name out loud.

“Verene,” Keira said, staring, spitting the name as she spoke it. “These are the Verenes.”

“The Verenes?” Christian sneered and shook his head. “Kingu’s greatest failures? I didn’t realize there were any left.”

“Just us,” Michelle answered, but her eyes had narrowed, her shoulders tensing. “We make do.”

“Carmen, get behind me,” Keira demanded, holding up an arm protectively, her other hand going for her sword. One of the girls, bigger than the rest – Helena – stepped in front of the others. “It’s okay. Thank you for your service. You can go now.”

“Oh, by your leave,” the small girl, Robin, said. Her voice was mocking, her exaggerated bow an insult.

Keira paid it back with the exact amount of vitriol that motion deserved.

“Fuck you,” she said. The small girl looked like she might try something but Michelle put a hand on her shoulder, shaking her head when Robin looked back at her. Robin muttered something, shaking, as Michelle pulled her people back, eyes never leaving them as they moved away and into the crowd and were gone.

“Why,” asked Carmen, licking her lips, “why did you do that?”

“She wouldn’t have been good for you,” Keira said, taking her hand off her blade and looking at her friend, hoping that she could make the other girl understand. “Do you know the Verenes? Who they are? What they did?”

“No, but I know she kept me safe,” answered Carmen, hugging herself.

“It’s okay.” Keira brought her closer, held her, thrilled a little to feel Carmen’s small arms wrapping around her, hugging her back.

“I don’t understand,” murmured Carmen. Keira could feel her tears through the shirt she wore.

“We’ll bring you up to speed,” Christian sighed. He pointed with his eyes and Keira followed his gaze, noticing that Kiker’s people had taken a casual interest in them. “Come on, let’s get out of here. We’ll talk once we get back to my place.”

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189

World of Mercedes Ketch – Perfect in Flaws

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

June 9, 2017

Persephone had long retreated into the underworld, and Everett believed that the place she entered the underworld from was Toronto. Cold and polite, the gray apple, the chill in the air seeping into people’s minds and hearts. It’s why he liked Toronto; the sense of etiquette without thought, pity without relevance.

He’d known someone, decades ago, that had described autumn as a time of edges and scripture.

“What about winter?” Everett had asked that man.

“You’d have to ask Persephone,” the man answered. He’d died soon after, held in Everett’s arms.

Steam rose from gutters and carried the scent of waste and cigarettes and coffee. He nestled in his jacket, coffee close at hand. He’d just gotten back from Brazil and a new supplier, the coffee good and rich in his hands, down his throat, settling in his belly. Two cups, one for him and one for the lwa, as entropy tightened fingers on the throat of civilization.

Civilization was crumbling as it had crumbled before many times. He’d learned to enjoy whatever a civilization could offer before faltering in and dying, and this one had come so far. The stars struggled to find some place in the night sky, but the purple-orange haze of smog and clouds turned even the moon away.

The coffee grounded him. The candles littered around him, protected from the snow and still air, the dull haze of a hundred streetlights below. He stood on the roof of a building he owned – his home on the second floor, a coffee shop he ran on the first. Good cheap coffee, some tasty snacks, free wi-fi, open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, closed on Christmas but open for New Years.

Every New Year’s made him smile, the arbitrary measurement of time that this world is now obsessed with. He wondered what the next civilization would build itself on, once this one was dead and past and remembered only as another dark age. The arrogance of humankind, to think that whatever age they lived in was the apex of every possibility, that what they knew now was the only truth there could ever possibly be.

Cold and polite, he felt the soul of Toronto rear up and stare, nodding its head as it wandered the corridors of itself.

So many spirits out tonight, he thought. I wonder why.

He was having a moment, he knew, unable to remember whether this was the end or the beginning of winter. He knew where he was but after so long the seasons blended together, the decades, the centuries. He’d been told to remember and he did, back before sky had become earth, back before they’d won the war but lost, lost, lost so much.

What good was it to remember when everything he was had long since passed from breath into dust?

A shattering electric light flared into life beside him, the twinkling mire of a cell phone ring assaulting his ears. That grounded him a little; he was here and now. He stared, took a deep breath, let the sense of time wash over and through him. Call display showed no name but a long string of numbers, one of those strange equations that came from across the Atlantic.

He reached for the phone, tracing the edge of the small screen, his hand looking like a shadow against the light and the trickling flakes of falling snow, so gentle.

“Hello?” Everett asked, smiling at the sound of his own voice. The deepness of it, the richness, unmarred by centuries past and the present world.

“Hi, Dad.” Two words, the voice familiar. He’d had children in the past, watched them grow old and die. Some he’d sired and others he’d adopted and this voice was from the latter, a small girl left to die in the care of those who saw only someone to be used until withered. He’d bought her, a black man buying a Hispanic girl from white folks. From Rose Unwanted to Rose Stone and now, now, he’d given her away and seen her married, and now she was Rose Ketch.

“Hey.” He remembered her, the flash of her eyes, the crook of her lips when she smiled. The way she did her hair, the studious way her brow furrowed. Published, respected, he’d watched her grow and cultivated her loves, staring in awe at the women that unwanted child had become. “I don’t recognize this number. Where are you calling from?”

“Acco, in Israel,” Rose answered. Names cycled through Everett’s head, old names, dead names – Devinii, Kebara, Natufian, Meggido, Canaan, Kandar, Judea, Syria-Palestina, Palestine… He closed his eyes, took a deep breath. He’d spent a little time in the area, had avoided it for the sake of memory. “Are you okay?”

“What?”

“You’re doing that breathing thing you do.” Rose sounded concerned. She knew him so well. “Are you having one of your… episodes? Do you know the year? The month?”

“It’s Toronto in winter time,” Everett answered, sounding stronger than he felt. “And I have a newspaper subscription on my phone. I’ve just been thinking.”

“What about?”

“Time.”

“Ah,” she said, and though she sounded reluctant she took the hint and let the matter drop. “How’s Toronto?”

“Cold,” Everett said, and now his smile was genuine. He was looking down at the few people wandering the city this late, the chill they braved so much more than mere weather. “How’s Israel?”

“Hot,” Rose answered, and he imagined the heat there was much the same. “Do you remember I was telling you about John’s dig? The new one?”

“Surcess?”

“No, dad, he finished with Surcess,” Rose sounded playful, and he could imagine the light of her eyes. “The new one.”

“Surcess would be enough for anyone else,” Everett said, but his tone robbed the words of their criticism. He liked John and always had, but something was tickling him. “Isn’t it pronounced Akko?”

“Or Acre,” Rose confirmed. “You know these places don’t translate well. There’s something like fifteen versions for spelling Hannukah I’ve seen in English alone.”

“I like Channukah.”

“The the one that starts with ‘ch’?”

“Yes.”

“Did you know there are people debating Surcess’ authenticity?” Rose asked. She sighed, and he could hear her stand, imagined her walking through whatever house she was living in. Acco, he recalled, was closer to the sea. Western Israel. “It doesn’t help that a private investor bought the whole island.”

“The Verenes,” Everett said, nodding. Solaina, Robert, and… Lloyd. He narrowed his eyes, thinking of the latter. He’d never liked Lloyd.

“You remember them?” Rose asked as if he would ever forget. “They were very excited.”

“I’m sure,” Everett answered, trying to keep his voice mild. “I’m sorry I missed the party.” He’d never been to Surcess – he’d been touring what would become Carthage when he’d first heard the stories. A whole island of people who would do favors for others and eat those who would not pay them back as demanded. Monstrous, evil humans, their name living on through the ages and now dismissed as myth. The Hellenists had destroyed them, led by a woman who had claimed their island for herself.

“It’s alright,” Rose sighed. “The Verenes are turning the whole thing private, though, and without further investigation…”

“It’s making John look bad,” Everett finished the lingering sentence. He knew how hard it was to explain anything to people when it challenged their view of the world; the people of the earth always preferred the shadows in the cave to the world outside, so afraid to remember the sky.

He wondered if, living among them, he had become so guilty. Would he know? How often might it happen? He shook his head, sat down in the snow and cradled his coffee. It was still warm, scalding his lips, but he didn’t mind the sensation. He let it ground him.

“How’s John taking it?”

“He’s trying not to let it get to him, but you know how he is.” Rose paused, and he could hear the quickening of her breath. “And it’s killing Jack.”

“And so he’s brought you to Israel,” Everett asked, the words not quite a question. If people were challenging John about Surcess he would find it difficult to get more grants, more funding… “How are you feeling about that? How’s Mercy enjoying that?”

“She likes the oranges and the fields,” Rose said. There was something wistful in her voice, something sad. “So do I. I’m trying to be supportive, but the books aren’t doing as well as I’d thought they would and… well, at least there’s something calming about deserts and mountains, you know?”

“I do,” Everett said, looking at his own horizon, the towering gray spires of concrete and glass, the dead valleys of streets named by those long since forgot. “What’s he looking for now?”

“A group of people called the Devinii,” Rose was silent for a long time, and Everett realized he’ wasn’t breathing. He forced himself to, long slow breaths, in and out, in and out, his eyes open as the towers around him looked like outstretched fingers.

“W-what name did you say?”

“Devinii. Have you heard of them?”

That was a code; she knew about him even if she didn’t know how old he was. She was asking if they were real if he knew them to be more than a fable. He nodded, took another breath.

“I have,” he answered, hearing her breath catch in her throat. “Your husband is ambitious – I don’t think there’d be much left of them, though. They predate Surcess by several thousand years.”

“Thousand?” Rose sounded surprised. “Thousand? How old are they?”

“About as old as my people,” Everett answered, and he heard her sit down, heard her take a deep breath. He’d never told her about his people, the culture they’d built, the one he’d been powerless to stop from being destroyed. No one could understand those horrors except the others that had been there, the handful of ones that had been asked to remember, and of those few, he trusted even less.

“This is what I give you,” the Annanuki had said. “Life until death.”

“Don’t we already have that?” one of the others had asked.

Everett silently wished that he’d stabbed them both, then and there.

It was painful to think about how much had been lost, how sky had been bound to earth. He’d told her the tales instead, the old legends that his father and his mother had told him, tales echoed by whispering lwa. The Scarlet Angel. The Musician. The Purple Queen, the Blue Queen. The Weaver.

“Dad?” His daughter asked. “Dad, come back to me.”

“Sorry. Sorry, hun, I missed that last bit.” Everett held the cup of coffee steady in his hands, staring at it, forcing himself to study the minute details until the world around him was all that mattered, here and now, the cold seeping into his ass from the snow he was sitting in. He stood, dusting himself off with one hand, holding the cup steady in the other. He could see all the way to the horizon, knew every window along the street.

There were weeks, months, years where this happened, where memory drowned reason. He’d been told to remember and he never forgot and sometimes, rarely, he would act and bring the weight of himself down upon history and try to change the world.

“Is the Weaver out walking again?” Rose asked. “I can call back next week.”

“No. No, this helps.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure,” Everett said. He closed his eyes, took a single breath. He remembered the conversation, every breath from the moment Rose called, every word and pause and inflection. He opened his eyes, took a long gulp of coffee as he considered all of it and frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“We’re fighting over money.” He could hear the pain and embarrassment in Rose’s voice; she did not like admitting this, but few people ever liked admitting weakness. “When the Verenes bought the island, they stopped John’s peers from confirming his findings, and without confirmation…”

“People are branding him a crackpot,” Everett nodded understanding. “I’m sure Jack is thrilled.”

“Jack always had a firmer understanding of that sort of thing than John, and he’s done his best to keep the reality away from John, but…,” she trailed off, and he could imagine her biting her lip, closing her eyes, gathering her thoughts and her strength. He waited, patient with ages, patient with knowing. “John’s beginning to feel the crunch. We had to sell the house, and that’s why Mercy and I had to move out here.”

“You sold the house.” Everett frowned, looking in the direction the house lay. Even he couldn’t see it – the earth curved long before he might have, and there were cities in the way, but he still grimaced as he remembered every room and imperfection, the backyard and the garden, the ivy creeping up the side, the mint that grew along the back fences. “I loved that house.”

“So did I.”

“Let me buy it back.”

“Dad…,” Rose let the title hang between them, her tone uncertain. She didn’t want to ask and struggled with the idea of him doing this, the hesitation in her voice caused by a yearning for her old home and wanting to stand on her own.

She loved that house, he knew. They both did. To go from the bedlam and squalor of her childhood to those brick walls had been an impossible dream, and the two of them had made it their home together. Her harsh teen years, rebellion made worse by the pains of her childhood and the trauma he’d suffered in that decade, but they walked one another through it, walked one another beyond it.

He left it to her and John when he’d moved to Toronto. He’d always been a creature of cities, and he’d been glad when humanity had rediscovered them – living in Damascus, in Carthage, in al Hambra, in Kumasi, in Barcelona, in Toronto. He loved the lights, the whispers, the collective breathing of hundreds of human souls, the thrum of their heartbeats, the joy of architecture.

“You could have come to me,” Everett said. “You can always come to me. You know that, right?”

“Yes, I do, but John doesn’t,” Rose said, her voice very quiet. Everyone carried secrets, some shared and some not. Everett had shared his with Rose because he’d had to, but both of them had decided that John could never know – his obsession with the past would have broken against the length of Everett’s life, and they both knew it. “He likes you, but he doesn’t know… he doesn’t like asking for help.”

“No one is an island, Rose,” Everett said, the words as gentle as he could make them. “We’re all connected. Everyone accomplishes what they can depending on who they are and where they’re from, the relationships they build in and of the world.”

He didn’t need to add that he could afford it. He could afford almost anything, his riches grown through ages. He’d learned to diversify his holdings after Carthage was sacked, the lesson that no empire was eternal one that he’d learned slowly, but once he had, he’d taken the time to divide his wealth among different nations, different kingdoms, different places. This was a practice that had served him well.

When the idea of inventing wealth had finally occurred to the modern world he’d been an early buyer, and he was now easily in the one percent of the one percent, rich in a way that stripped the word of essential meaning. He owned the building he lived in, owned the seven blocks around it, ran a coffee shop because he enjoyed coffee and giving night people a place to go. He had grandfathered his investments into other investments, spending a year in every decade learning the ins-and-outs of different economic models.

It was better, he had found, to be wealthy than to be poor, and better to be free than to be a slave.

He frowned, remembering the early days of America, the rise of the Three Sisters, the… he blinked, let his thoughts settle.

Deep breath, he thought. Here and now.

He loved his adopted daughter. He liked John. He enjoyed his granddaughter, little Mercedes. She called him uncle and John thought Everett was Rose’s adopted brother. He looked at the stars trying to break through the smog cover and smiled, finishing the last of the coffee.

Sometimes, Everett thought, John could be more a child than Mercedes.

“Who’d you sell the house to?” he asked.

“A real estate firm for a down payment.”

“I’m going to buy it back and put it in Mercy’s name as part of a trust,” Everett said, his tone allowing no argument. “Keep the money you got from it. Are you comfortable?”

“Me? Yes. Of course. This place is, well, it’s lovely.” But it isn’t home, she thought, and he could hear those words in the slim shaking of her voice. “What do I tell John about the house?”

“Anything you like,” Everett said, letting her know that he’d support her. “Next issue is your finances. You want to handle this on your own, and I get that. The Verenes are why you can’t get grant money?”

“I guess. I mean, yes, kind of.”

“Then call the Verenes,” Everett said. “You got on well with Solaina, I seem to recall, and Robert seemed to get on well with John. If they’re so interested in Surcess, let them have it – but get them to pay John for what he found, and get them interested in what he’s currently looking for.”

“You think they’d be interested?” Rose asked, her tone light.

“If they’re interested in Surcess, they might be interested in the Devinii,” Everett shrugged, letting the motion flavor his voice – she would not see the motion, but she would know that he’d done it. “Call them. Find out.”

“Okay,” Rose said, and she sounded so much more like herself.

“Do you have a contact number?”

“Yes, Dad, from Solaina.” Rose paused, and he could hear her licking her lips, swallowing. Her voice dropped, became quieter, more frightened. “Do you remember her?”

“I do,” Everett answered. “From when the two of you were kids.”

“We were in our teens,” Rose’s voice turned warm, her recrimination playful. She was fond of those memories despite their horror, but the ability of adults to swim in their childish nostalgia had always amazed Everett, always left him wondering if his own memories were so tinted. He shook his head. Here. Now.

“Barely,” Everett said, his eyes rolling. He remembered young Rose, rags and bones, her eyes haunted and smoky, and Solaina’s anger and flashing sword. “Give her a call. Play on history and see if there’s anything there.”

“I’ll do it as soon as I get off the phone.”

“You might want to have Jack plant the idea in your husband’s head.”

“What?” Rose asked, surprised by the suggestion. “Why?”

“Because your husband, much as I love him, can be a bit of an idiot,” Everett said, smiling as he leaned against a wall, his eyes drifting over the city spires. “He might not listen to you, and he won’t listen to me, but a suggestion from Jack…?”

“Yeah, okay.” He could hear her grin. “Love you, Dad.”

“Love you, too,” Everett said. He let the words hang between them, enjoying a comfortable electric silence, breaking it only to ask, “Is Mercy around?”

“She’s out in the orchard,” Rose answered. “The property we’re on has an orange field. She spends her days reading, playing, or stealing oranges to eat.”

“Aright, well, let her know her Uncle said ‘hi.’”

He could hear Rose shifting her weight, making herself more comfortable, hear the way her breathing changed. Rose understood why they told Mercy the things they did, understood why they kept the secret from the eight-year-old girl – children traded secrets for candy, and Mercy might never know the full depth of Everett’s life, might never know that he could live forever.

Other children in the past had traded secrets bigger than that. Everett had seen it happen, had even had it happen to him. He’d had to flee Spain, cross a sea and flee further to escape the fires of Inquisition and the persecution of zealots. He’d ended up in chains, ended up blistered and shattered across an ocean, ended up in-

“Dad?” Rose asked. He took a deep breath. Here, he thought, now.

“Sorry, lost in thought again.”

“Hopefully, it’s a little more pleasant.”

“It is,” Everett lied. She knew that he had seen and been and done many things, and often it was the bad memories that dominated. She’d seen him when- he smiled, shook his head, laughed. “Iataad taohif aamgae.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

He asked her to call him when it was done, to let him know how things are and if there might be anything else that he could do to help. She said that she would and that she loved him and then she hung up and he stayed there for minutes afterward, staring down at a single girl staring back up at him.

She was young, this girl, pale as snow, with raven hair and emerald eyes. Her facial structure was that of someone that wasn’t human but was trying to be – lacking the small ticks that came from growth, the small changes evolution brought to structure and culture brought to stance. She was looking at him and she nodded, smiling, turned and vanished into the night.

There were powers older than he was and too large to easily comprehend. He’d seen some of them in the past, been there when they’d done their workings and changed the world. It made him shudder in a way the cold never could, to know that such powers were moving through the world again, were gathering, that one of them might think that the conversation he had just had was important enough to watch so closely.

He replayed the conversation in his head once more, all of it from beginning to end, felt something that he’d missed when he’d muttered the most ancient of prophecies: iataad taohif aamgae.

In the long dead language of the Devinii, it meant none may escape.

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308

Fiction – Love is War 03:00:03:03

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

March 17, 2017

Click here to read the previous entry. 

Sotaas watched as it all unfolded. There was nothing that could be hidden from him, not a moment that passed that he was unaware of. Oh, the warlords of the Coeecians thought they were secretive when they met in their eyries or caves or tents, but there was always wildlife around them and anywhere life prevailed he could see. Even in those places where there was no life he could go, slipping between their moments of awareness.

No place was safe from him. There was no where to which he was unattached, no distance he could not cross with a thought. All space was a single space to him, though as he become more aware of that it was harder for him to focus on a single location. There were times he felt like letting himself unravel, sinking into every measurement of length and width and depth until there was nothing left of him. Some sense of things always held him back, however.

Some sense of things. He wondered if he was going mad.

His left hand ached, sometimes, but still he refused to take the gaurn off. He had left the civilized world to calm himself and sort through his feelings for treacherous Veskur and unfaithful Endrall, but his efforts in that area had been underwhelming at best. A terrible anger grew in his heart, a rage and a hatred that no one would be able to withstand should he ever let it free.

Sotaas’ reasons for remaining in the wilds were, he would have thought, obvious.

Members of his House sometimes came looking for him. They were the best trackers and scouts in all Midgard, a House that prided itself on such activities. He stood in the midst, sometimes, and listened to their words, cobbling together a picture of what was happening among the Vanir as they made war on the Coeecians.

It all seemed so trivial out here and in the wilds. The idea that thousands and thousands of people were dying in every battle over some imaginary border, over which way of living was right. Couldn’t the Coeecians see how wrong they were? Were their thought processes too flawed to understand the superiority they consistently threw themselves against? It baffled Sotaas, left him thinking that there was some part of their physiology that was wrong. No matter how many of them he dissected, however, he was unable to discover what that mistake was.

So he wandered along the borderlands, unseen by all – his nation, his House, his Njord and Freyr and Freya. No one could find him due to his mastery of the ethcinos and he vowed that he would never know a personal tie again, never be bound by thought and heart to anyone that he could love. There would be no more friends who betrayed him, Njords that asked him to do unsavory things, lovers who soothed with words while stabbing into his guts with a smile.

He moved east and further east, past the Darroken lands and into the Middle Kingdom of a people called the Hsien, then further east still to a nation of shattered islands. It was here that the sun was born every day and here where he set down to watch light vanquish darkness every last mourning. There was something soothing about the birth of light, a vision taken in absolute solitude as the days slithered past and bled together.

“Sotaas?”

The voice startled him. The question in it wasn’t one of presence; the speaker knew he was there but wasn’t certain of his exact location. Sotaas turned and stared from a place of hiding, wondering if this woman – the inventor of the Science that kept him hidden – could see through that very Science. He did not think so, but had learned long ago that it was never wise to believe that a Lady like Veskur Wyrd had any limitations at all.

“I know you’re here.”

Sotaas circled her, his consciousness wandering through the world around her. Veskur was sitting down in a natural break in the woods they were in, her bum resting on the grass, her eyes downcast. She was trembling, frightened, though of what exactly Sotaas was not certain. He drew a dryw as he circled, considered jabbing it through the skull of his old friend as he stalked around her prone form. The Lady had to know what was happening but she offered no defense, did not even raise arms or head.

“I came to a-apologize.”

Sotaas stopped. He was not certain if he had ever heard that note of quiet desperation in Veskur’s voice – he had kept tabs on Endrall and Veskur only enough to know that there had been some sort of falling out between them. Endrall, he knew, had half-heartedly tried to contact him for a while, but even the ghost of attention that Sotaas paid the darling of House Suwilo allowed him knowledge of his old lover’s thoughts; when Endrall spoke of Veskur it was in nothing but insults. He had even taken Veskur’s name away, referring to her as the dryw.

“There’s a peace offering. Will you drink with me?”

Slow, gentle, Veskur shrugged a pack off her shoulders and opened it, producing a bottle of fine wine and two glasses. She possessed none of her usual arrogance right now, Sotaas saw, held none of the manic confidence that had always been her air and armor.

“Please? I’m sorry, Sotaas, I’m sorry for everything. I don’t, I didn’t…”

Sotaas was not certain when he took Veskur in her arms. They held one another for a time, grasping at one another, holding one another steady in the face of their separation. They discussed everything, leaving no truth unlit no matter the ugliness of it. They spoke for days, the sun rising and sleeping over them as they banished all the things that stood between them.

“I can forgive you,” Sotaas said, finally. “I can forgive you because you understand that you were wrong and you came out here to find me. Do not expect me to forgive him.”

“I wouldn’t ask that.”

“Did you know he asked me not to take a lover after he left?” Sotaas felt bile rise in his throat. “He told me it would break him to see me with someone else. And then, not a moon after his absence, he was lying with an echo of his mother.”

“Hekro.”

“If that is her name.” Sotaas scowled, clenched and unclenched his hands. “What has been happening in Midgard?”

“Much. Where would you like me to begin?”

“Politics and succession. I would like to know what sort of jungle I’m getting into now that I am rejoining the rest of the Vanir.”

Veskur smiled and nodded, telling Sotaas everything she knew.

Click here to read the next chapter. If you like the artwork, why not go and thank Meghan Duffy at duffyartdesign.com? She’s cool people.

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517

Fiction – Love is War 03:00:01:04

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

September 4, 2015

Every week, we’re going to post some new fiction for you to devour and read, with original art as a header, and then a collected version for purchase from our store when the book is complete. Questions? Comments? The writers are right here, and they’ll respond as they’re able. 

***

Click here to read previous entry.

***

– 03:00:01:04 –

Deeam Wsael, the Apparent of House Wynn, studied the ballroom around him with his usual aloof demeanor. He had made a study of contented stoicism, achieving in that air a perfection that all his House strove for. He was a good man, strong and graceful, his deep baritone a voice sought for song, his strong arm and amhr sought out on the battlefield, his warm presence sought out by the romantically inclined of both genders. The rigors of the world seemed too small for him in the eyes of everyone else, but he accepted all that came his way with an easy grace. Many sought his ear and consul, knowing that he was to be the Duke of House Wynn, and likely the Freyr of all Midgard thereafter.

He scanned those that had risen to this occasion, a celebration to mark the reclamation of Ashaewulo’sabberkena just a few seasons past. The combined forces of Houses Gebo and Hagalaz had used the worst defeat the Vanir people had ever suffered in that valley to springboard themselves to ever greater victories. Their revenge now assured Vanir dominance over that complete area of land. He was told that the thanks fell to a number of generals and heroes, though a very brave few – the ones he trusted the most – whispered that all that had been won could be laid at the feet of a single woman.

That woman in question was easy to spot; she kept towards the back walls, thinking herself out of sight but merely being out of place. She looked uncomfortable in the dress uniform of a soldier, her hair a tangled and barely woven mess. She had added a strange glove to her ensemble in a style Deeam did not recognize. A single cup was held in one hand, untouched, while she looked at the various people around her with a bewildered smile. This was not a noble who was happy to be here, Deeam realized, not a person who was used to dealing with other people.

Another noble hovered around the woman, keeping everyone else at bay. A young man that Deeam recognized, one of the up-and-comers from House Jera who had been given Ashaewulo’sabberkena in the past and lost it with the disgraced Hekro Gherlid. Unlike the Golden Champion, this young man had found himself a captive of the Coeecians, surviving his time with them somehow. There was still a shine to him, a touch of some grace that Deeam recognized, like calling to like.

“What was her name again?” he asked.

“Do you mean the boy? He’s Figo, son of someone, born of House Jera.” Deeam turned to find the speaker, River Megru of House Mannaz, smiling. The other man was older, bigger, a harpist and something of a rake, his reputation as a genius matched only by his reputation for breaking hearts. He was currently sprawled in a chair, his fingers roaming over the strings of a large harp. “Ah, but your pronoun was feminine. That implies your curiosity is focused on the woman currently trying to avoid contact with everyone else. That would be Lady Veskur, daughter of someone, born of House Wyrd. She’s the one no one wants to credit with saving the day.”

“Thank you. Informative as always. Perhaps you might tell me why not?”

“Well, she’s crazy.” River sniffed, strumming his instrument as he took stock of the room. Deeam had never met anyone better at reading or riling a crowd. “Not much of a people person, not much of a leader, not really much of anything. And, also, House Wyrd. Do you know them? No? They’re one of those minor Houses that never seem to do anything. The rest of us keep hoping they’ll die out. We’d be better off without them.”

“There’s warmth in your voice when you speak of her.”

“I think it would be fun to settle her nerves.” River grinned, plucking a few more strings. “I’ve met her a few times. She’s got her own little hovel up in the north, lives there with a single servant. He’s fun. She reminds me of what I might have been like at her age if I’d been a reclusive little shit.”

“And so you have a soft spot for her.”

“You could say that.” River sighed, a look of frustration crossing his features – Deeam had watched River in the past and been amazed at his ability to insult people into doing what he wanted, but he knew from that expression that his favored method of influence had meant nothing to the woman they were both watching. He ran a hand through his hair and let out a long sigh. “I don’t get her, but she’s a good head if you ever want to discuss theory of any kind. There’s little else to her. She’s no Golden Champion. How’s Hekro recovering, by the way?”

“Lucky to be alive. Sahr Erison is seeing to her healing.”

“I’ve heard even Sahr can’t heal all her wounds.”

“Four seasons past and she’s still in intense care.”

“Give her to me. I’ll see her healthy again.”

“I’m sure you would,” Deeam chuckled, shaking his head and hoping that River would take the hint. “What can you tell me about Figo?”

“He still has all his teeth.” River shrugged. “To be honest? Afore Figo tied himself to her, I thought our dear Lady Wyrd preferred the company of her own gender, or maybe her letters and books.”

“Charming. Anything of actual interest you feel like sharing?”

“Not especially. I’ll be checking the youth at House Raido next, seeing if there’s anyone there worth noting, but I doubt it.” River glanced around. Deeam knew that expression, knew that the man had already decided who he would be insulting into bed that night. “I’ll get back to you. Oh, and your betrothed is here.”

Deeam looked around the room, trying to spot the mysterious woman that he was set to wed, caught sight of her. Those of her House dressed like no one else among the Vanir nation, every inch of her and her line covered in dark violet and blue fabrics. The nobles of House Pethro had shared a long association with a distant nation that always covered themselves thusly when dealing with outsiders; Pethro and her descendants had adopted the behavior. Many thought it was a restrictive practice, but Deeam knew better. He’d had taken the time to learn about the ways and customs of the woman that he was to marry.

He had initially been insulted when he had discovered that the real reason that the nobles of Pethro kept themselves so covered was spiritual hygiene, an insult that had been mollified when he came to understand that those same nobles considered him spiritually pure; it was the reason they wanted one of theirs to marry him.

Glow Packrt was her name. He could feel her eyes on him, could see that brief moment of stillness as she took in all that he was, feeling her approval wash over him. They walked towards one another, locking arms as the assembled nobility muttered and whispered.

Most of them did not approve, Deeam knew, but none of them mattered. The marriage was arranged and the two of them had discovered a passion for one another.

“I missed you.”

“Missed you, too.”

He felt her fingers, her naked fingers, touch his and knew that there was no higher compliment that she could give him at that moment. He smiled, transcendent, the two of them making their way through the crowd. They moved with slow confidence, taking their time, pausing to dance when River stepped up to the podium to play his harp and sing, even Deeam even joined the rake from Mannuz on stage for a song or two. With two exceptions, there was not a single person he did not talk to in the early or mid-evening.

It was not until late evening that he finally managed to corner that final pair, but he had kept an eye on them all night.

“Good evening.” Deeam knew what to expect from them from what he had observed over the course of the night; Figo would take point, all smiles and friendliness, while Wyrd would stay behind and join the conversation as necessary. “I’m glad the two of you could make it.”

“Why?” Wyrd asked. It wasn’t a challenge, Deeam realized, but an honest question.

“He’s being polite,” Figo answered, rolling his eyes from Deeam to Veskur, his smile one of genuine affection. “It’s considered a good way to strike up a conversation with people you don’t know that well.”

“Oh.” Wyrd blinked, considering, then held out her ungloved hand with stiff politeness. “I’m glad the two of us could make it, too.” Deeam took her hand. She looked tall and frail but there was a manic strength to her, more a product of will than body.

“I hear you won back Ashaewulo’sabberkena for us,” Deeam said. Figo paled at the mention of the valley, but given what had befallen him at that place this was hardly surprising; Wyrd’s quick refusal, on the other hand, was.

“I just applied certain theories into practice that had been tested elsewhere.” She shrugged, looking pleased with herself. “The armies were the ones that actually fought. The generals and things. I just used Science.”

“What kind of science?” Deeam asked. Wyrd turned nervous and looked to Figo, who gave her a slight nod and him a quick wink.

“Okay. Okay.” Wyrd took a deep breath. “Current theory holds that everything is made up of energy that vibrates at different speeds in order to become different kinds of energy. This variation of vibratory speed results in different forms and a multiplicity of those forms. Holding those forms apart from one another requires a borderline structure, which I call rune structure.

“These structures funnel that core energy in different patterns, allowing it to interact with other forms in a set series of ways that are, potentially, infinite in their number. However, while the possible interactions are probably limitless, the circuits that the energies travel along are not, and, with the proper application of science and knowledge, one can make that energy travel in pre-determined ways. An application of this process of will over other is found in the common sciences.

“However, the common sciences are barbaric for the most part and the similarities between what our people do and, say the Coeecians and their rituals are matters of detail rather than knowledge. This is troublesome, as it implies that we are no more advanced than the Coeecians, or any of the other people that exist outside of Midgard. I believed that this fault was a matter of thought rather than a concrete rule, and so began studying these core energies, their applications, patterns, and behaviors.

“I discovered methods of solidifying the structures those energies traveled through into solid and definitive shapes that could not be broken. Common ritual searches through a plethora of possibilities and tries to bring the desired outcome to reality. By applying a solid form to one choice and only that choice, the scientist can destroy all other possibilities by creating a feedback loop from one undesirable possibility to the next, thus eliminating even the chance of those possibilities ever coming into being.”

“I see,” said Deeam, though he truly didn’t. Figo caught his eye and gave him a sympathetic smile as the Lady Wyrd, smiling and relaxed for the first time since he’d seen her, continued.

“This glove is a tool that allows those energies to be channeled in ways that I see fit,” she said, holding up her glove for his inspection. It looked like there were bits of wood woven into the fabric, and a blank disc was held suspended on the back of her hand. “It’s a circuit that summons forth whatever outcome I desire with respect to certain affinities while destroying any other outcome that might exist in any given action.

“For example, the structures that create living as opposed to unliving things have core behaviors and patterns with respect to the potential that they have as achieved through the applied chemical processes that we call birth. Different organisms of the same species possess different capabilities with respect to skills and ambitions, to say nothing of personality. Through the application of the equations and mechanisms that I have invented, one can influence, change, or define what those capabilities are and the tier at which they exist.”

“Interesting,” said Deeam, interrupting when Wyrd finally paused for breath. “There are other people that I still wish to speak with, but I would like to know more.” Deeam said this last only when he caught sight of the disappointment that festered in the woman’s eyes.

“I was planning to return home tomorrow to continue my work, but I could postpone.” Wyrd licked her lips, looking around nervously. Figo squeezed her hand. “Your Majesty.”

“That will be quite alright,” Deeam answered, nodding his head. “And, please, call me Deeam. I wouldn’t want to keep you from your studies but I cannot, regrettably, come to you. Why don’t I send someone your way who you can talk to at length?”

“The Lady Wyrd is uncomfortable with people she does not know in her home,” Figo said, a note of protectiveness in his voice.

“I can be mindful of that.” Deeam glanced around the room, caught sight of a certain rake and smiled. “I believe you know River Megru?”

“He is a passing friend, yes.” Wyrd glanced through the crowd, then bowed her head, her breathing unsteady.

“Why don’t I send him to you?” Deeam was pleased at Wyrd’s wordless response, though he noticed that Figo was less than happy at the suggestion. “You and he can discuss your theories at length. I believe he must make a stop at House Raido, then Isz, but I can have him veer north thereafter. I cannot imagine him taking longer than a season or two.”

“That will do, yes.” Lady Wyrd forced a smile. “I would be delighted.”

“Would you mind if I borrowed Lord Figo for a moment?” Deeam asked. Lord and Lady looked at one another. “It’s nothing of consequence. I just need to know some things about her House. I can leave you my betrothed as company, and it will only take a few moments.” Wyrd seemed uncomfortable with the idea until Glow brought up something having to do with the transference of energies, and then the two of them became consumed with their exchange of theory.

Lover is War 04

“Is she stable?” Deeam asked, as soon as he and Figo were out of earshot.

“Mostly,” Figo said, looking back at where the Ladies were talking. Deeam recognized the look of Figo, his sense of ownership when it came to the Good Lady Wyrd. “You can see why the others don’t like giving her accolades, though, right?”

“Yes,” Deeam said, studying the woman from a distance. “She’ll never be the type to rally the troops, will she? Never be social or comfortable around others.”

“She could be, she just doesn’t care to,” Figo shrugged, running a hand through his hair. “There’s passion there. Her House is thrilled that she’s let me into her home and that she seems to have taken an interest in me.”

“Do you care for her?”

“She saved my life.”

“But do you care for her?”

“She…,” Figo paused, considered the question. “There’s a surprising depth of passion in her, a hunger that I know she’s shared with no one else. She’s strange, brilliant.” Figo’s cheeks went red, his eyes distant. It was answer enough.

“Her glove… is it a simple mechanism or is there some trick to it?”

“I’m not certain. She keeps it to herself, though she’s told me she’ll make me one.”

“Figure out how it works,” Deeam said, looking around. “If one person wielding such a weapon can turn the tide of battle so simply, imagine what it would be like if all the nobility had such power? It would end violence among us.”

“Do you think so?”

“I know so.”

“I’ll do it.”

Deeam and Figo circled back to where Wyrd and Glow were still talking, the two Ladies discussing the applications of some form of what Deeam assumed was alchemy. Wyrd seemed excited again, her eyes bright as she smiled and admitted she knew nothing of what Glow was saying but that she would be eager to learn. Figo joined Wyrd and took her by the hand, leading her away, explaining that he and Glow would want to spend some time alone together, and the bewildered Lady followed her better half.

“What do you think of her?” Deeam asked his lover, but only once he was certain the other two were out of earshot but still within his sight. He could see how the two of them balanced each other, both of them naive in so many ways; Figo was as much diplomat as soldier, and his Lady would need both in the days to come. Still it was clear that Figo had been wounded by his time with the Coeecians – his savior was the perfect distraction, a rock upon which Figo could rebuild his world.

He thought that they complimented one another beautifully.

“She’s utterly mad.” Glow whispered. She was covered head-to-toe in the custom of her House, which made reading her expression impossible, but Deeam could see that she was shaking. “I am certain she knew nothing of the Lemurian concept of the soul, but the moment I began describing the basics she grasped it and started making sense of things that even I had trouble with. Have you heard the tales of her wondrous glove?”

“I have.”

“If anyone were capable of making such a weapon it would be she,” Glow whispered. “I’m not sure if her findings are a good thing or not. Did you hear what she plans on titling her application of Science?”

“What?”

Ethcinos. It’s a verb in the old Darroken tongue.”

“What does it mean?”

To Hope.

Neither of them took note of the winged guest who sipped at Deeam’s finest wines.

***

More is coming next week. If you like the artwork, why not go and thank Meghan Duffy at duffyartdesign.com? She’s cool people.

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885

Fumbling Towards Maturity

Opinion, The Truth

August 9, 2013

There’s this idea that giving something a rating because it contains nudity, foul language, sexual innuendo, drug use, actual sex, or ultra violence somehow makes it more mature than something that does not. This is something that needs to stop. None of those things are, in and of themselves, any more mature than a thing that lacks any or all of those qualities – it’s not the trappings, it’s the context of them that makes something mature. The quality of how those tools are used to tell whatever story they’re being used to tell. (more…)

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