Pilgrim’s Progress

ImageI’m about 65% done with my first read of the rough draft, and DAMN I BE POV SWITCHIN’.

But the chase/pitched battle against the Froggians is pretty sweet.

And there was a halfway decent hangover description.

Trying to stay positive, amidst the rubble and my fierce hatred of my own work.

Jenny Bellowsbreath, Jenny Twotimes, Jenny the Shieldbreaker

[Just a bit of character description I liked.]

After some casting around, Quick finds a noodle cart surmounted by a garish green umbrella. Long Man is printed in a few languages in faded ink. A woman sits at one of the stools, head dipped forward over a steaming bowl. She is wearing a conical hat that disguises her features, but Quick can see from her hands that she is dark-skinned.

The phantom, Tetch begins to speak, then stops. He awkwardly clears his throat in attempt to get the lady to look up from her noodles. – C. McGeehin

“That’s weird. Ghosts don’t have throats, so how can they clear them?” the hat angled up and Tetch and Quick stared into the dark brown eyes of the mage, Jenny. An elaborate tattoo of a flame was on each cheek, and long braids hung down, coiled around shells, coins, and bits of wire.

“Oh no, some lordlings spirit. Spare me the drama. ” her hair clattered as she drained the dregs from her soup bowl in one swift motion. “What do you two want?”

“Our boss has sent us out to hire the service of a mage. This petulant poltergeist would prefer a female one. We heard you were good at what you do but we’d like to know more about you. You interested in work?” asks the tiefling. – J. Miller

“Always. If your coin is good. What sort of work?” She wiped her chin on her wrist, like a cat at a milk saucer.

Jenny rolled her eyes, and pushed her empty bowl away. She stood up, revealing a long brass chain that dangled from her wrist. The other end was attached to a mammoth tome, triple sealed with shining black locks. She picked the book up like a pet, and tucked it under her arm.

“Don’t have much experience with tea leaves, but I take just fine to blood and destruction. Point me at something, and I can tear it apart – that’s my super move, devilkin. Why do you want to know about other mages? If you came seeking Jenny Two-Times, you know that I’m the best.”

With love and respect to the ArchAndroid.

The purple-skinned trombonist eyes the coin with distrust, then shrugs. He calls off stage in a thick tongue that Quick doesn’t recognize. The dance floor buzzes with excitement as a slender figure steps into view. She is wearing a sharply pressed white shirt with a black string tie, long black tail coat, pinstripe pants and blazing white spats on her shoes. Her skin is dark, and her elaborately coiffed bouffant is darker — but the devilkin spots the cunning rivets and seams along her jawline, and the slight purple glow behind her wide, brown eyes. She is a construct of some sort, but one of greater complexity and craft then Quick has ever encountered before.

She kicks her legs high in the air, and cradles the steel microphone and pulls it to her lips.

Whoaaa
Another day I take your pain away
Some people talk about ya
Like they know all about ya
When you get down they doubt ya
And when you tippin on the scene
Yeah they talkin’ bout it
Cause they can’t tip all on the scene with ya
Talk about it T-t-t-talk bout it
When you get elevated,
They love it or they hate it
You dance up on them haters
Keep getting funky on the scene
While they jumpin’ round ya
They trying to take all your dreams
But you can’t allow it
Cause baby whether you’re high or low
Whether you’re high or low
You gotta tip on the tightrope
T-t-t-tip on the tightrope

The band thumps and jams behind her and the Funky Winkerbean quakes and jives. The devilkin faintly remembers that in the outside world, it’s only an hour or two past breakfast.

The spider bartender waves its free arms in time to the beat, and serves drinks faster and faster. The two half-elves squeal and dash towards the dance floor. The drunken dwarf burps.

Bard’s Gate notes.

[Working on expanding a setting, just collecting a bunch of bits of description in once place for convenience. Thanks to Carina, for helping me lay the foundation of this city.]

Surrounding the ship are towers of light. Tall buildings, solidly built from stone and amberloc — a thousand thousand windows, each giving a uniform blaze of chilly blue light. Bard’s Gate is reknowned for its tall buildings, Echo can see from her vantage point many other tall buildings, each with different colors of light beaming out into the warm darkness. On the edge of her vision she can see a deeper darkness to the north, the ocean. Her home.

A thousand gems blaze with light, a thousand shattered rainbows held in place by stone and the will of men.

 

“What a delight! You must take the time to take in some shows — the dramatic performances in Sloetown are not to be missed. The dancing halls, the singers, the wandering troupes of tumblers and acrobats. In a city where the sun never shines, there’s plenty of time to have a pleasant evening on the town.” Enton chuckled again, at his weak attempt at humor.

 

The snow-haired mage leads the way down the gangplank, into the hangar proper. The vast iron doors leading to the neon-lit night beyond. Winter makes a beeline for some small vehicles, made from blue steel and fashioned into stylized representations of horses with long legs and fixed wings.

 

The culvert opens up into another world — the darkness gives way to a massive golden light, shot through with orange and purples. A whole street is nestled away down here, a brass band plays on the roof of the building closest to the entrance. Literally, a band made up of brass automatons play trumpets and cornets — reminding Echo eerily of the guardians of the Vault of Flaubert I.

It takes a moment for Echo’s eyes to adjust to the barrage of colors and lights that hit her as they walk inside. The first thing she notices is the sea elves. There are four of them, younger, casually chatting and drinking throughout the bar. It takes her a moment to realize how close this place is to her home city. One of the elves even looks familiar.

The bar is dead center of the relatively small venue. It’s made of reflective material that throws colorful light in all directions. The bars tools seem to be run on some sort of railroad track. She sees a few patrons slide back and forth around the bar. The rest of the tables in the joint are tall, and made of glass. Echo is suddenly glad that none of her shipmates are here—it would be all complaining and bull-in-a-china-shop like behavior.

A stage curls around 3/4ths of the walls, backed by lush curtains and elegant staircases in each corner. There were no performers, but it looked promising.

The walls were perhaps the most fascinating part of the whole place. Atop peeling wallpaper of golden trees, hung skeletons in various pieces. All the bones were decorated with some sort of feminine accoutrement—the skulls wore big, pink bows; the hand bones wore bracelets and rings; even the rib cages were laced with ribbon.

Unknowingly, Winter led the elf through the room, up to the bar. The bartender was nowhere to be found.

[Author – C. McGeehin]

Winter rapped her knuckles on the bar, and looked around.

“Horace? Has he wandered…”

Sliding from around from behind a rack of bottles, an elegant skeleton pirouettes into view holding two cocktail glasses in one bony hand and dark red bottle in the other. He wears no clothing, but his bones give off a faint glow, and show signs of constant cleaning and care. A pinprick of blue light hovers in each eye cavity, and he gives Echo a rakish grin.

“Ah, who’s your friend Winter? A new plaything..or something saucier?”

Winter shrugs and orders another round.

The drinks this time are purple, wreathed with a salt-like mineral that gives off an ethereal green glow. Horace taps a bone finger on the bar next to the glasses, then points towards the stage.

The magenta curtains are being drawn back, revealing a smiling halfing. He has bright green hair, and a tunic embroidered with the sigil of a radish impaled on a lance. A disembodied goblin head droops from the ceiling, and squawks in a squawky sort of voice.

“Creatures and cravens — the Jade Harpy is proud to present, the world-renowned Bard of Wonder, Radd Plateglass!!!”

The bard, Plateglass bows floridly his blue cape billowing. He snaps his fingers, and a viola appears from nowhere. Without further ado, he begins to play. The song is old, but richer for its age — a song that finds its way into the dens and castles of most races on the globe.

The halfling hums, warming the strings of his voice, then sings:

Walk through the sorrows, of coal-black night
sing of the morrows, when all is light.
the gate is closed, and the beast is sleeping
quietly past see my true love creeping.

Winter rolls her eyes.

“I hate this song.”

The two step out into the garish light of Tunneltown. The night is young.

Five minutes and thirteen seconds later, Echo sat on a ledge next to a particularly sad-faced gargoyle. The thousands lights of Bard’s Gate twinkled in the eternal night. The streets were busy with denizens of Forever Night seeking their odd pleasures and secret agendas, all bathed in a rainbow of artificial light.

The druid glanced to the west, seeing the tail feathers of a seagull disappearing behind the curve of the city. Brand hadn’t been particularly thrilled about the animal shape she’d chosen for him, but he hadn’t wasted time arguing. Echo wondered if he’d remember to land before the spell ran its course.

Many stories below she also spotted the bald head of Kit, and his bedraggled performers. Their performance riot had done it’s job, and now they were limping their way to Tunneltown.

“So, why’d you want to meet here?” a voice asked. Echo glanced at the gargoyle, then turned left to see Winter, levitating next to the ledge. The snow-haired mage sat down next to the mage with an inquiring look.

The Sonic Bomb erupted. The 25th Floor erupted outwards, stone and steel flung hundreds of feet. Then, like a felled tree the upper floors slowly spun, then began to topple. The howl of bending girders hang loud in the air.

Seafoam Headquarters goes dark, the lights flickering off as the tower begins its seeming-slow descent into rubble.

Winter watched the carnage wordlessly, then turned back to Echo – hair whipping in the wind. Her hand snakes out and tugs at the druid’s ear. She pulls insistently until the sea elf’s face is inches from her own. The mage plants a chaste kiss on Echo’s brow.

“That was …. impressive. Do you think Seafoam got the message?”

From the outside, it’s hard to tell if the place is a theatre or a strip club. The burnt out light bulbs and neon would suggest a seedy venue. You’d think one would take better care of light sources in the city of eternal night. Perhaps the hooker-vibe is one cause of their financial trouble.

The inside doesn’t look much better than the out. Plaster crumbles above Echo’s head as she steps through the doorway, and the whole place smells musty. A single flickering bulb lights the lobby, throwing just enough light to lead Echo toward the stage.

[Author – C. McGeehin]

Levels and Blech

Stringer Bell finds my prose to be lackluster.

I’m temporarily finished with my short story, Star Prophet. I’m really ambivalent about it — part of it I like, parts of it I don’t — but I’m trying something really outside of my comfort zone/style.  I have lost all perspective on how well it’s working.

Looking for some feedback, follow the link for the full text, so you don’t need to read it piecemeal on the blog. Comments here, or on the page itself would be much appreciated!

Star Prophet V

Bite and tear,tears and bytes and the constellation Sagittarius. Will I ever be okay, like the fat children tumbling down the Sunday School Steps? The funeral limo smelled of peanuts, and I was empty as a comet — ice and light and empty black hurled tennis-ball across the net. The edge of a floppy disk in my bag, I stole it from Enrichment even though my uncle’s house has no computer. Just to hold it, just to slide it between my hands and think about the little packets of numbers, the glowing green lines of longitude — the way they formed lego-stout another planet.

Everything’s all mixed up. Everything happens at the same time.

Star Prophet flopped down on a dune, and skimmed a coke can across a few waves. He was pretty good. My uncle’s fist slams into my face again and again, and I’m full of waves, salt water in a ziplock bag full, fuller — then burst. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him. The boy, and his fingers and the moons, and the rocket ships burning , solid state fuel of pain. My uncle’s hand on my chest, and I’m glad I’m still flat but it won’t be long. Star Prophet’s red goggles are fogged up , and he pushes them up his face and leans in close and plants a graveside kiss on my brow.

“It’s all still out there. Waiting for you. For all of us. It was promised.” There’s snot on his nose, it’s November, white star peeling on his head like a crown of lilies. “Don’t forget.”

“What?”

“Don’t forget the Cheetos.”