Titan’s Wake – The Story So Far

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Shining cities and tower tall,
broken at its feet they fall.
The Titan, red ash and smoke
in Cataclysm’s voice it spoke.
Then nothing but sand and wind
and death.

Then at last in caverns deep
The dwarves were first to break their sleep.
Their Empire rose in steel and stone,
bending all hidden in sand alone,
to kneel and bow to
the Lion Throne.

The Roots of Stone patient stand
until Dragon curse from human hand,
bit and tore at Secret Seal.
Druid-child born to heal,
led companions brave
across the sands.

There they found in canyon’s peace
a giant with crystal-heart to cease.
Bitter miles and hidden fear,
full of doubt but purpose clear.
They broke the heart,
to break the curse.

No curse they broke, and cursed their own
The sacred Roots a tomb of stone.
By Dragon-Word they slipped away,
awoke in chains both black and gray.
The Machine-City of Zero,
where the Dream sleeps.

Tales they heard and songs of light,
their learned much of Zero’s spite.
A story of a different sort,
the gods own ruin by Dreamers thwart.
Undo the Titan, free every mind,
at Dragons’ return.

With brittle lies and fortunes blessed,
the heroes fled from the Dreamers’ nest.
They brought their strange tales and questions meet,
to lay at Sunset Company’s feet:
The Final Seal is found,
Zero rides.

Under sand and over stone they flew,
up spire and in air they knew,
the Temple Unknown, invisible and sure
they fell upon harsh knowledge, pure.
The Mask of Six found
a new bearer.

And there they fought against the Dream
Red blood flew against Sunset’s gleam.
Fleeing death and Zero’s might
the Mask unleashed a blazing flight.
Far to the west,
beyond the moon.

Led on by words of sleeping hand,
they journeyed west to a frozen land.
Beyond the desert, beyond the glade
Seeking for both Guide and Blade.
In Raven’s Hall,
they claimed them both.

Snow and mountain spire,
their path lead to secret fire.
A hidden temple amongst the snows,
where secrets wait and death’s wind blows.
The machine flickers to life,
and the Mask shines with fervor.

Careful now, you heroes bold
for what you find down in the cold.
It’s hidden heart slowly beats
Power does not die, it only sleeps.
Words and tales and songs and lies,
the empty choice is hero’s prize.
Make your way or make your grave,
the blindfold-man is Fortune’s slave.

Love and Parallel Dimensions

Let’s talk about love and parallel dimensions.

I’ve had a theory for several years that it is far easier than one supposes to slip between alternate worlds, through the membrane of reality between eyeblinks. It happens all the time and most people rarely notice because the worlds we flip between are ever-so nearly identical. Here there’s a red house and there it’s blue. Here my keys are on the table, but there they are on the hook. Has that McDonalds always been there? Did this shirt always have a black stripe? We travel when we sleep and things are almost the same when we open our eyes.

Almost the same.

You find yourself talking to a friend, but things seem strange. They know you from Universe 247B, but you are remembering Universe 8-Jacket-907. Are your memories congruent? What’s the margin of error? In Plato’s Cave are we remotely seeing the same shadows?

I like this theory a lot. Maybe it’s because my memory is  a constantly rumbling Etch-a-Sketch, or maybe it’s because I lose things all the time, or maybe it’s

Artist - seventypercentethanol
Artist – seventypercentethanol

because I feel a distance between me and most humans. Some souls are a little less anchored than others, more easily sent adrift through the worlds.

I also fear this theory a lot. One day I might slip too far. Open my eyes in a dimension where no one knows me, or a place where every ill decision waits to wreak itself upon my brow. Most people slip when they sleep, but some days every blink shows me someplace different. Every car ride, every corner turn, every open door a new dimension. I try to hold on, to navigate, to touch stone and remember. The wind keeps blowing, ceaseless and patient.

But then I see my Beloved.

Somedays I slip far away, even from her, but then we blink together. We blink together and I am home. And when we sleep we slip together and wake up someplace new, someplace stranger — but together. We blink together and we are home.

There are more worlds than this and we dance through them unknowing. A forever carousel of worlds and souls and change and wind. A single life can get lost so easily, spun out of the gyre into worlds dark and forlorn. It is only the gravity of love, the shining thread in the dark that binds and must not break. There are those who believe it immortal and inviolate, but I am too full of shadow to agree. It burns all the brighter for its fragility, it holds all the stronger for how easy it is to shatter.

Thank you for knitting the cord with me, thank you for travelling so far with me. Across a billion worlds I prayed to find you. May the shortest distance between two points always be our thread, hand in hand we travel and I always wake up home.

I love you.

Blink with me and we are home.

Riddle Box Opening Verse [ Sketch 2]

Have you come to play a game?

All the pieces are marked

all the clues will  appear

one by two, two by one,

running through the

weightless halls of the manor.

You have come to play a game,

the killer and the killed.

Blood on white marble,

blood on shadowed wood,

blood on blood,

blood on fire.

The game has come to play.

Follow along, the string in your hands,

the song in your ears.

Eyes sharp, hearts dark.

The two travelers step through the door,

the door shuts behind them.

Forget the names and play the blood,

sing Tomorrow and hold back the flood.

When the two sing together, they shiver apart.

No better tutor than fire-blasted heart.

Leave your tears

it has already  happened

we merely pick up the pieces

and put the board away.

Apocryphile

My friend across the table muttered something in passing and my blood went cold.

“Did you just say, Apocryphile?” There was no reason she could possibly know what it meant, I tried to stay calm, hands flat at my side.

“Uh, what? No,” she replied.

The ‘Apocryphile ‘is a name of ill portent, a character from a set of stories I thought I had escaped, a year-spanning tabletop of four-color glory. A villain of quiet wit and patient menace. One of Steven Carroll’s devils. For a split second, I legitimately wondered: am I still playing that same game? Have all the stories and games and dungeons and adventures since that game been nothing but a long con? Am I still wandering through the streets of New Babylon? Any moment now my phone will buzz and razor-sharp letters will blaze.

get to waffhut, funtime back in town, dont tell liz

The devils we create, the stories that we tell — the strange grip an imaginary name can squeeze from it’s imaginary heart. These worlds were ours and they linger. They linger indeed.

Inevitable

We’re all telling the same story.

I’ve been thinking about the State of the Fantasy Genre intermittently, and I just had a thought-burst. We’re all telling the same story, the story of 1011841_189098384582884_536161209_nInevitability. Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, Abercrombie’s First Law, Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

And me.

The feeling of fate, of the dark steps at the end of the road pervades the genre — even me, who is supposedly some sort of bubble-squeak rebel scribbling graffiti on the overpass of Epic — I’m telling the same story.

To paraphrase Kvothe: ‘You know how it ends. It ends right here, with me telling you this story.” [Unless of course, Rothfuss has been misleading us all, and Doors of Stone culminates with some version of Kote yelling ‘It’s Clobberin’ Time.”]

I don’t necessarily think this is a new convention in fantasy, Tolkien and Howard laid that ground for us long before — but it feels kind of strange to feel the same cobalt melancholy hanging over so much of the field. Is it because we’re all too cognizant of the gears and automata of storytelling? Or are we all just too jaded to tell a story with a half-way decent happy ending? From whence this kamikaze-love song with the grip of Fate?

Maybe just a function of maturity, of most head-and-shoulders artists hitting the success point when they’re old enough to feel the turn of the earth in its gyre, the dusty cobwebs of age long since gathering.

Or am I seeing a correlation that isn’t there? I know the story I’m telling, the strange and dark end of my Heroes. It sits on my shoulders like a black iron mantel. So tempting to change it, to have it come out better — or cheat the very fabric of the tale.