Archive for March, 2013

I’m a little behind on my normal schedule for these FFC’s (we had a flood in our basement last Friday, and most of this week has been dealing with the aftermath). This week I randomly rolled the words “dolphin”, “undertaker”, “satellite”, “chisel”, and “envelope” as words and aspects that I needed to use. I ran a little over the 1000 word limit (actually, more than a little, this baby clocks in at 2200 words and some change), but I present to you “Route 9 & Bingham”

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So, this last week has been a busy one for me: the wife was sick over the weekend, I had errands early in the week that needed getting-done, I was down for the count with something on Wednesday, and yesterday I spent most of the day pounding out the typed-words. Those who follow this lil’ blog will probably note that I didn’t do any kind of Flash Fiction Challenge this past week, primarily because of things listed above, but also because I really wasn’t inspired by the writing prompt.

*shrug* Shit happens.

But, I can proudly say that I finished the first draft of the first “Raiment of Stars” story that I mentioned previously. Clocking in at ~27k words, I’m really happy with the way it’s turned out thus far, and can’t wait for my beta-readers to get back to me with their feedback. In lieu of a Flash Fiction piece from last week’s challenge, though, I figured I would post an except from the first story (working title is “The Hero”, that will change once I come up with something a little snappier). Hopefully, y’all will enjoy. : )

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This week’s challenge involved using a “random sentence generator” that looks like it was coded by a crack-addled monkey with only the barest understanding of how the English language works. But, after about a dozen tries at getting a random sentence that approached something resembling coherence, I received “a truth runs underneath an insult.”

And so, I present to you, “A Truth”:

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So, this week’s challenge required us to randomly select aspects from five lists. I rolled the following:

“Hardboiled” (subgenre)

“Rainforest” (setting)

“Ecological Disaster” (conflict)

“Treasure Map” (aspect)

“Chaos always trumps Order” (theme)

And so, I present to you “Gone to Schmidt”:

 

Edit: This story has been removed – look for it collected with more of my work in ebook format! 🙂

Endings and Beginnings

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Announcements
Tags:
2013-03-03_21-00-41_738

Rorschach and I hard at work.

Well, so my Thing-A-Day run for February 2013  has finally come to an end (after another delay over the weekend: I ended up spending about 36 hours hanging out with the in-laws and their kids and it was totally worth it). The plan now is to let the  draft sit for a bit (maybe a couple of weeks at this point, we’ll see what happens) then start re-writing it in order to publish. Already, I’m envisioning radical revisions so the following draft(s) likely will only bear superficial similarities to what has been posted here over the last month. That being said, I will be setting aside a separate page for the text on this here blog so that readers (should they desire) can eventually compare the rough draft with any future version that gets published.

As well, expect a continuation of the “Flash Fiction Challenges” (I’m already cooking the current week’s challenge and should have it up in the next day or so) along with periodic updates and posts regarding other projects I’m working on (currently, one of them being a short story anthology revolving around the Grail-esque relic mentioned in Journey to the South as “the Raiment of Stars”). So, until then, enjoy the picture to right of me and one of our cats diligently working on last night’s update.

     It has been five years since the night that the Monarch and I swore those oaths. I have seen my children grow, including seeing Rakaj sent off to the Imperial City as a young man for schooling so that he might rise through the ranks of the Great Bureaucracy, as well. I have seen the relations between the Moy and the Kingdom grow stronger, even as the Moy struggles against slave-revolts and seriously considers the act of emancipation, at the advisement of the Priesthood of Tule among others. Lamentably, I have seen Viro take ill and succumb to the ravages of disease, but I have also seen Akar take the empty place at my side. I have seen the seasons come and go as the Kritanoi deem them to do, I have seen the lands change, I have seen the people change, I have seen myself change.

    Like many, there are times when I think back over my life and wonder what might have been should I have made different choices? How would things have been different had I not let Rakaj play with the innkeeper’s daughter in Tarahn? Would we all have frozen to death had Decurio Atam and I forged on ahead to Yantih through the blizzard or would we have made it to the city? Would Cuahuatec still be alive if I had not sent him off for pomegranate? Would Viro still live had we not traveled to this foreign land?

    So many choices, so many questions, so many ephemeral possibilities that flit at the vague boundaries of the imagination. To learn from your actions and hypothesize how one might have chosen differently – so as to hopefully make better choices in the future – is one thing, but to constantly mull and obsess over minor choices and decisions that spiraled into consequences that shook the very foundations of one’s world…

    To do that leads to nothing but folly. That has been one of the most important lessons that I have learned in my journey south into the Hundred Kingdoms of the Tainir. My life and the lives of those around me have been changed irrevocably, for both the better and the worse, ever since I left Harran more than five years ago at the command of Moynama Pahnot Gharan Udo. Though there are actions and consequences that I regret and lament, I would not change any of them in the end. For it is those actions, those consequences, the choices that informed and led to them, that have shaped my story and the stories of those close to me. It was those events that have sculpted us into the people that we are, for good or for ill.

    And so, as I write these final, parting words before I leave my desk and go to join my new wife and my two daughters for the evening’s meal, I say this: I am ever thankful for my journey to the south. It has led to happiness, pain, growth, loss, and a multitude of new experiences.

    What more can one ask from the world?

     Our lodgings were in a building not far from the Scarlet Palace of the Monarch, still within the defensive walls of the eponymous Scarlet District of Sirr. Akar explained to us as we passed through the a gate in the massive granite walls – walls which were painted red so as to evoke the thought of blood flowing down them – that the District was so named due to a legendary uprising that won the Sirraşi their freedom.

    “You see, in the ancient days, we were ruled by monstrous creatures from across the ocean that you call the Serranian,” Ambassador Ka’lahn said as the litter carried us along the short tunnel through the cyclopean wall. “They enslaved us and thought nothing for our lives. Not until a young Ainur, blessed by the Harrimi, stood against them and rallied the Tainir populace behind her. They rose up, cast out the tyrants, and established the Kingdom of the Sirraşi. But the fight for freedom was a bloody one, particularly as they came for the tyrants here, in their citadel. Thus, the palace of the Monarch is known as the Scarlet Palace. The district within these fortified walls is known as the Scarlet District, and the walls are kept decorated such as they are to remind we Sirraşi that freedom is paid with a currency that all possess, but is infinitely more valuable than gold or jewels.”

    Within the Scarlet District, Akar explained, were the buildings of most of the Kingdom’s bureaucracies along with the capital’s foremost garrison, the Scarlet Shield, that housed both the Monarch’s personal legions and the city’s guard. Our building was to not only be our residence during our time here, but would also be the Embassy for the Krava Moy. Which was not too surprising: it was in keeping with the established order of the Sirraşi and given the recent end to the hostilities between the Kingdom and the Moy, no doubt the Monarch would like to keep a potentially valuable hostage close at hand should peaceable relations crumble.

    The building itself was five-stories tall, covered in marble – Akar explained that most buildings in Sirr were built with granite and faced with marble – that was was carved to depict Kravri figures in majestic and friendly scenes. I raised a questioning eyebrow to the Ambassador when I saw these.

    “I assume those are new?” I asked.

    Akar smiled knowingly. “Yes and no. The artwork is, the stone is not,” she said. “Before the treaty between our peoples was signed, this was the Embassy of the Jallah, one of the other Hundred Kingdoms. They graciously moved to another building and we changed the artwork on this building accordingly.”

   I grunted thoughtfully at that. The stone is old, but the artwork changed, I remember thinking. No doubt that no stone-mason the likes of which that we Kravri have ever seen attended to such a job. Yet more magic at work and their society functions none the worse for it.

    Soldiers and servants brought our belongings and helped us begin the process of making the building into a home. It took most of the day to begin settling in and before we had really made much headway we had to ready ourselves for the night’s feasting. We donned our finest robes and I placed the brass laurel wreath that marked me as ambassador and envoy for the Krava Moy upon my head. We were led to the Monarch’s feasting hall by Ambassador Ka’lahn and the Head of the Guard, a tall Ainur with raven-black hair that was coiffed similar to Akar’s, and seated not far from the entrance of the hall. The space itself was cavernous, filled with table and several hearth-fires on each side. At the far end from the entrance, I could see a dais upon which stood a stone table draped with fine cloths and adorned with candelabras that shined silvery in the light.

    We were introduced by the chamberlain when we entered, and the gathered Sirraşi nobles stood and applauded. Viro turned bright red as this happened – despite being an ambassador’s wife and having attended many such functions since we were wed so many years previous, it seems that she realized distinctly in that moment that the fanfare was her and our children as much as it was for me. The Monarch herself stood and greeted us as the applause died out, she garbed in a dark dress that was accented with dark blues and greens that reminded me of the description of the lights that haunt the northern Hylian skies at night. Her voice carried easily across the chamber, whether through magic or design of the room I am still unsure. We were seated once the Monarch finished and served the first course of a very long meal that consisted of more and more wine, mead, and ale as the night wore on.

    I was asked to tell a story of the Moy and so I related the story of the Raiment of Stars, of how the armor that was forged in the ancient past by Tainir smiths and sorcerers was recovered by a youth who used it to defeat an evil necromancer, and how the legend spoke of the youth disappearing into the land of the spirits until such a time as when the Raiment would be needed again. The Monarch and her Court appeared to appreciate the story, and Akar informed me that the Sirraşi would like the fact the story incorporated a relic of Tainir manufacture. Another of the Court stood and related a stirring story of being shipwrecked in the Yevij, of being stranded on an island in the inland sea of six turnings of the moons before being rescued by a naval ship of the Moy. The Monarch and the rest of the Court applauded that story, as well, celebrating the good-will between the Moy and the Kingdom – that despite the border-war between our two nations, there could still be good found in the other. More stories followed, along with music and song and, as I mentioned, drinking. This went on late into the evening, so long in fact that our children began to fall asleep at our table. Viro and I excused ourselves, which Akar relayed to the Monarch, who toasted us and called an end to the evening’s revelry.

    In the morning, Viro and I woke late, still recovering the previous night’s festivities. The day was filled with more settling in and a visitation from a Kravri merchant who had established a burgeoning business in Sirr. That evening we were once again led to the feasting hall by Ambassador Ka’lahn and seated mid-way between the entrance and the dais. The evening was filled with song and stories, food and drink, celebrating both the Sirraşi and the Kravri equally, until once again Viro and I had to carry sleeping children back to our apartments within the embassy.

    The third evening saw us once again escorted by Akar to the Monarch’s feasting hall, but this time seated on the dais. The Monarch, an Ainur of a height equal to my own, with curling blonde hair that was worked into intricate braids and scrolling tattoos on the sides of her shaven head that wrapped around onto her cheeks, chin, and forehead, was seated close to myself, with only her Chief Minister seated between us. The Monarch herself regaled us with several stories of the greatness of the Sirraşi people and their Kingdom, though there were plenty of bards and other nobles of the Court who offered their own songs and stories up for the entertainment of all who were gathered that evening.

    The climax of the night came when the Monarch rose and asked me to stand with her. She raised up a golden horn filled with mead, swearing an oath to peaceful relations between our two nations that I echoed, both out of formal obligation and sincere desire. We then both drank of the horn and the mead that was left was offered up to the Harrimi, in a divine sealing of the oaths sworn. In the end, the Monarch graciously allowed us to retire when our youngest began yawning and having trouble keeping her eyes open, bidding us a good evening and renewing her stated hopes for prosperous and peaceful relations with the Moy.