Celebrating my beloved’s birthday — no geek cuneiform today!
Archive for December, 2011
I’d love any sort of constructive criticism on The Cost – I’m writing one small chunk of it a day, and posting it to the site with very little editing or rumination.
You know, like I do.
This is a continuation of Another Story – and this character is very near and dear to my heart. I know a lot about him before and long after this moment, but I’m curious how effective this piece is without much context for the main character.
Let me have it!
The wide hall was silent.
Each door that the squire passed was flung open, green corpse light gleaming.
A group of dead children and their governess, chests and lips covered with yellow vomit. They were laid out in a perfect circle, feet to the center. A basket of apples placed at the center.
Three men dressed as nobles slumped around a silver table. One man’s arm had been cruelly spiked to the table, the flesh and bone laid bare. Golden forks and knives were still clutched in all three’s hands – gibbets of meat hung from all three’s lips.
The green doorways opened their arms, as Jonas began to move faster.
A fat man that brained himself against a stone ledge.
A room stacked high with furniture, dressers and bureaus pulled in close. A thick stench rose from the center of the barricade.
Two skeletons huddled in the ashes of a massive marble fireplace, hands still clasped.
Jonas found broad stairs, and climbed.
He kept his eyes on the steps ahead, and forced his wounded leg to move faster.
The final step caught him unawares, and he stumbled forward. His shoulder screamed as he crashed into a stone pillar. He leaned against it for a moment and caught his breath.
He heard laughter, and jerked his head up.
The wide doors were twenty feet high and enameled with steel and silver. They were slightly open, and the sound of brittle glass-laughter came from within. The green light was brighter here, forcing him to squint as he stared at the crack between the doors.
Jonas took a step towards the door, then stopped. He passed his sword from hand to hand for a moment, wiping the sweat of his palms on his sodden trousers.
Glass-laughter, knife-laughter – the laughter of breaking. It sounded again, and the squire found himself backing up slowly from the door.
He leaned his head forward, shaggy hair fallling forward. He gripped the hilt of his sword , each knuckle a sickly yellow-white.
Too far. Too far to turn back now. I must know what happened here, I must.
Jonas of Gilead stepped through the silver doors.
Jonas closed the door behind him, the sound of rain hushed.
The grand entryway was covered with mushrooms. Sickly, purple and pulsing slightly – as if each bulb was taking a slow breath.
The green light bloomed from a pair of corpses sprawled on the marble stair. A pair of guards. The squire moved towards them, but then stopped. He didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to find the faces of old friends rotting on the steps. The light seemed to pour out of the vicious wounds on their neck and back, like an echo of blood, burning green and merry.
Jonas kicked the mushrooms aside in disgust and made his way up the steps.
At the top of the stair, a hand print had been charred into the wooden door. The squire placed his own hand next to it, to compare. The other hand was thinner, long fingers splayed.
Is this the devil? Luthen’s devil?
The squire wiped the water out of his face, and entered the hall.
Jonas landed hard on the stones of the parade ground, blood seeping from the deep gash in his leg. He retied the crude bandage, and forced himself to stand.
The rain fell.
The church was hours ago. It felt like weeks ago.
He had passed through the wet night, the sudden slide of cobblestone and slate roofs. A brace of once-men has surprised him in a narrow alleyway. His sword had prevailed, but one of the dark things had left the bleeding wound on his leg.
Now, at last he had pulled himself over the stone walls of the castle. An abandoned hay cart had provided a suitable ladder.
The windows of the castle blazed with green light. The same green light that filled the empty eye sockets of the dead of Gilead.
Jonas laid one chilled hand on the hilt of his sword. He pulled the good steel free, and stepped carefully through the open gates of the castle.
[This piece continues the tale of Another Story.]
ALTUS INFO DUMP
[This is condensed from several sources, there are very little hard “facts” about the Mysterious Continent -- but these seem to be the most likely.]
The land mass of Altus wasn’t discovered until well after the Vardeman Accords in Year 54. The races of Aufero had mastered sea travel, and were eager to explore as much of the globe as possible. They found Altus to be almost impenetrable to sea access – massive rocky slopes, with shear sides, sharp as razors. The few expeditions that managed to penetrate the interior suffered tremendous losses, and brought back strange tales of volcanoes that spoke, rivers that sang, and roads that climbed into the clouds.
Few believed these tales — but the difficulty of travelling to the distant land mass – added to the lack of resources discovered lead to the exploration of Altus being abandoned.
[“There wasn’t any gold! “ Bragg chuckled. “ If one half-mad sailor had tumbled back with a fistful of gems, or some silver bangles -- you can bet the world would have found a way to shinny up those cliff sides”.]
Airship travel was first developed circa 1006, and after the Flenelle Renaissance of 1019 hundreds of vessels of different designs and propulsion type filled the skies of Aufero. Despite the political turbulence of the past few centuries, a few brave explorers turned their sights to the Mysterious Continent.
And never returned.
It wasn’t until 1029 that a successful expedition returned. Led by Jaiden Moore [b.1010].
[“Seafoam was a mom and pop tugboat operation in those days. They had three scows that worked the harbor of Bard’s Gate, and a couple of ratty old hotels. Rent by the hour, if you know what I mean.” Tom, of House Brighella winked. “ Young Jaiden scraped up enough coin to get a an old airship up into the air, and across the sea -- he was the talk of all Aufero when he came back unscathed. Toasted in every port and kingdom across the globe -- he used the connections he made to slowly build trade agreements, and shipping covenants. Not to mention the rumors of the lost technology he discovered. I haven’t found any records of him showing off any discoveries, but it is a fact that Seafoam engineering soon outstripped almost any other airship firm -- becoming the industry standard in a manner of years. Time passed, and soon Seafoam became the de facto governing body of the skies -- and any ships that wander too close to Altus are turned aside by Seafoam cruisers and battleships. For their own ‘safety’, of course.”]
Seafoam’s fascination with magical relics, and any sort of Precursor technology has long led to many people theorizing that Altus is the lost Arkanic homeland.
[“Kythera.” Cai said weakly, his frail form covered with a blue blanket. “The Precursor’s greatest city - their home. The man who finds Kythera is heir to all of their knowledge, all their secrets.”
“I found a metal plate on the back of a strange mechanism in Carroway, it was covered with Arkanic script and a crude map of the globe. It took me a few months to decipher it -- but imagine my surprise -- it was an order form! For replacement parts, from the central depot in Kythera! The map showed a few symbols on the Altus landmap, but the largest was marked with the sigil for Kythera.”]
And we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
And now we can return to the regular nerd-scribbling.
here I stand, once more
on this rock at the edge of the sea
alone and laughing
arm crooked ’round an outcropping
drunk on power
singing my song, tossing words idly into the surf
finding glory in my destruction
another night, another time
a different wind will blow
and i find my heart
sere and hollow
I am supported
held aloft by
this bubbling froth/
that makes me sing
and summon leviathans
to drink of my reckless tears
carouse with your acolyte
My heart burns with light,
so careful am I
to shroud my birthright
This song in my eye
it burns while I sing
ripping thru my throat
like a newborn fiend.
An alien dynamo held in my chest
with each lightning stroke it
destroys some small sliver
but illuminates the remainder;
I pay the blood price
again and again,
let me be an angel of light
consumed by this hunger,
of my wings.
Let me shine unto the very end.
Humming in my joints like
spokes of metal
around my neck
growing hot with
prongs of disgust
Scurry scurry— brain fleas pop
on abandoned transistors
choke on rancid cotton
break things–break things
run across the dunes
empty me out, smash the
glass for good
then shatter anything else that can contain.
step free, a black-iron skeleton
clutching at velvet curtains
–they evaporate on contact–
alive and electric
thru the walls of