"You IDIOT!!!," a voice yelled as Cyprian hit a partial squat, darting his
head away from the destination of a pottery bowl: a wall just behind him.
Shadows danced all about against the generous light from an oil lamp on a
dining table, as shards of the bowl ricocheted here-and-there.
"This again..." Cyprian mumbled. "Typical," he thought. This occurrence
between he and Esmund, his would-be father-in-law.
The two never saw eye-to-eye, and were really only ever in one accord
when they stared away from each other, or one stormed off from the other;
or as they shared a great deal of personal space between glares and
brandished fists. The damsel in question, Lihra, really was Cyprian's
perfect counterpart, and he her's. Cyprian and Lihra met while she and
her mother were yet still in Old Thalos, living separate from her father.
Esmund had been surveying an area nearby New Solace for about a year by
that time. He had gone off to secure a new dwelling, while allegedly
establishing an appropriate amount of business there with which to
support Lihra and his wife. A year and a half into Lihra and Cyprian's
relationship, Esmund returned to take his wife and daughter to a no-name
village somewhere between New Solace and the Eastern Road. All was ready.
Cyprian wasn't from the best of families, and Lihra long had it in her
heart that it'd be pragmatic for him to go with them. Esmund never liked
the idea. He hated it. Cyprian was a total wayward vagabond to him.
Still, she had pressed her father sore over the issue. Eventually he
agreed, but laid down conditions when he took along Cyprian at her earnest
One of the conditions was that Cyprian enrolled into a school of higher
learning. This was botched three months in when he got kicked out for
having a keg on grounds. He wasnt always a drunk though. The bottle had
only begun to take him over soon after he discovered something he
shouldn't have. Something he wanted to forget, but never could. Yet, his
academic marks didn't suffer. But the schools policies did. He resented
the shallow irony.
Esmund scolded, "You'll sing for scraps, turn rhymes for notoriety and
charm women for further missives- and YES! YES, I've heard it before! It's
just 'business,' you say,"
"I get that! But the problem is it has no direction! And what of Lihra?
Did you consider what she thinks about the latter, just ONCE!?" Esmund
"AND you already screwed up ROYALLY by getting kicked from the school!
Did you think about how that looked on me??" he berated further.
"I HOUSE your worthless carcass!" he yelled.
Cyprian responded with a deadpan expression, still crouched evasively.
Esmund went on, "You swill a mug and off you go to your next impromptu
"It's not deb-," Cyprian began.
Esmund interrupted, "Oh don't you tell me you've got it all under control!
When you drink, you're drunk! Period!"
"I need look NO further than this correspondence!" he barked sharply,
backhanding an open scroll. "You've completely EMBARRASSED me for the
"What in the NINE hells were you THINKING!?," Esmund snarled. "You
instigated a tavern-WIDE BRAWL with your performance," he angrily
Cyprian just blinked, and finally standing up from his crouched postion,
brushed off a few shards of pottery off his shoulder.
"That is MY tavern,-boy-! A favorite of some IMPORTANT tycoons!" Esmund
seethed further, glaring.
The sounds of conceit scraped Cyprians ears.
"Money! Always money, always business! Always kissing ass on-high and
buffing your own, while skinning the asses of those beside you!" Cyprian
"You can scarce sleep at night save you contrive another way to polish
your pedestal and further estrange yourself from your wife and daughter,
can you?" he shouted. "You leave their hearts settling for lack, but
never mind that; your coin beams brilliantly at a level matched only by
your tunnel-visioned self-absorption! Isn't that right!?"
Esmund narrowed his eyes.
Cyprian postured defiantly, "Did YOU, yourself ever toss so much as a
notion around about your own wife when you were off having an affair with
another woman? During the period you were surveying around New Solace?"
He continued, "And further that you'd have some weird audacity to
INTRODUCE the mistress to your daughter during that time! Whatever for...??
What's all that about!?"
"..and you'll preach to ME over something as comparably negligible as
opening social avenues through women, by word ALONE?? MINUS amorous
contact!?" Cyprian asked derisively.
More incendiary words began to fly between the two. This wasn't the first
time Esmund looked down his nose from some higher perch; and this was the
last Cyprian would stomach of it. Neither was it the first time Cyprian
would bark back with utter disrespect. It was all Cyprian could do this
hour to bite his tongue about something he knew. The aberrant behavior
of Lihra's mother was obvious enough though, needing little affirmati-
on. For brevity's sake, we can just say her mother was a bit 'touched in
the head,' and that Esmund himself was no saint at all.
"I was actually going to give you a final chance if you'd work to repair
damages to both property and reputation. Ive had enough of quietly clean-
ing up after you," Esmund said, sitting decisively in a chair behind the
"Im not feeling so tolerant about now," he glowered. "Liabilities sudden-
ly beg to be discarded."
Cyprian blinked, raising a brow. He had never seen Esmund's brow sink
that low before...it was as though he was looking at an entirely different
person. It chilled him to silence, and it felt as though a lead ball found
a home in his own gut.
Esmund shot a peripheral glance toward a shaded corner of the room.
"Do something with him," he spoke in curt disgust.
Before he could turn his head, a sudden pain erupted from the back of
Cyprian's skull. Out-cold.
Piecing Between the Lines
The sun began its descent. The chirps of birds began to taper gently along
the soft intermittent breeze as Lihra neared the end to a sprightly walk
home. A modest amount of trees spotted either side of a paved walkway
that lead to a front door.
"I'm hooooome," Lihra announced spiritedly as she walked inside. It was a
good day of high marks from a few conclusive examinations. Finishing one-
fourth of her studies without instant left her glowing, and already,
bubbly thoughts ran away with themselves.
The blithe mood fled her like a ghost soon as her eyes met the somber
slouch of her father. He was sitting in a chair at the dining table.
Deathly still he was, as he stared blankly toward his lap.
"Father..? What's wrong?" she asked, sliding the strap of a leather
backpack off her shoulder.
"It's Cyprian," he answered, not moving so much an inch.
Lihra gripped the strap of her backpack tightly. "What do you mean? Is
"We had an argument...and.....he stormed off earlier today....." said
"Where...," her voice quivered. "..where is he? He's okay.....right?"
"Oh, I know! It's about the brawl at your tavern..right..? I heard
about it at school. S-so I.." Lihra's desperate reasoning started to fall
apart to her own ears as soon as it left her mouth.
As though Lihra's voice ceased to register at all, her father lifted his
head and placed small, red-stained bundle of cloth on the table.
"He's right here," Esmund said. "I went to look for him after several
hours. This is all I found toward the Dankbark Forest.."
"It -is- just a finger...so he could still be alive, but....I just...
don't see how. Not there..." he finished in a quiet, solemn tone.
A leather backpack sunk to the floor, a pair of knees followed and the
tears of a young woman watered them, dancing to the choreography of a
necromancer hiding behind family.
Elsewhere, streams inside the unconscious try to make sense of it all.
"....EMBARRASSED me for the last time...."
..or was it fear?
"...You'll sing for scraps, turn rhymes for notoriety and..."
..I drew unwanted attention.
"....Did you consider what she thinks about the latter....?"
...shifting concerns to hide your real anxiety.
"....the problem is it has no direction!..."
...direction or lack thereof had nothing to do with it.
"...I HOUSE your worthless carcass!...."
...and had trouble sewing me to your filial cloak.
"......I was actually going to give you a final chance..."
...to gamble against risk.
"...I'm not feeling so tolerant about now..."
...recanting your wager.
"....Liabilities suddenly beg to be discarded....."
Greener than a Forest
Groggy and head pounding, Cyprian opened his eyes slowly and the green
blurs in his vision sharpened to become the canopy of trees that they
were. He blinked once and jerked himself quickly to a sitting position
then lost his balance and fell on his left side. A sharp pain shot up his
left arm from his hand when he shifted his weight onto it.
Rolling onto his back with clenched teeth, he held up his left hand. Four
"...bandaged..?" Cyprian mumbled to himself, squinting.
"Oh, I see y'awake, now," spoke a weezed, nonchalant voice.
Cyprian turned a startled gaze in the direction from whence the voice
came, making conscious effort this time to shift weight on his right hand.
"Hello-hello," said a beard with legs. "How y'feeling?"
The only distinctive portion of apparel was a pelt of whatever beast, a
gnarled oaken staff and a small quiver. Sizeable nose, though.
"Who are you? How'd I get here?" Cyprian blurted thoughtlessly, peering a-
"I think the burden of explanation is on'y, ruddy," the gnome coughed dis-
Cyprian raised an eyebrow. "Ruddy?" he asked, blinking once to himself.
"Sure-sure, y'ruddy. Y'look fragile. Sheltered and what-have-'y." said
the gnome. "Is that the best y'can grow, by the way? Y'need a beard. Put
hair on y'face."
The gnome squinted his eyes, "Actually I think y'just been hit in the face
too many times. Think y'would be greener than the forest if y'hadn't.
Y'don't look like y'know much."
Cyprian shook his head, confused.
"Think y'should out with who y'pissed off, tho" quipped the gnome
with an -irritated- emphasis on suggestion. "Y'aren't *that* in-the-dark,
Puzzled is all Cyprian could express at the point. He didn't know who he
pissed off. He only remembered where. His confusion lay with who struck
him. With how he ended up in a forest.
The gnome sighed heavily, "Look, a halfling dragged y'arse out here,
tripped and cut off y'finger; then ran off pissed quite a while ago."
Cyprian just stared..drawing blanks over that kind of detail.
The gnome eyed Cyprian sternly.
"Look y'either don't know or y'dont want to say. Find it hard to believe
y'don't know, tho...unless y'were drugged," the gnome snorted.
Cyprian looked down at the bandage on his hand, then at the gnome,
"Oh that was a big pain in the rear, y'see. Y'were bleeding pretty freely.
If I didnt plug that up, beasts would be picking y'out of their teeth and
I'd be stuck cleaning up pieces of'y, so more didn't come," the gnome
"More interruptions. I've already had enough of those, y'understand." he
"Couldn't you just dwell somewhere else in the forest..?" Cyprian muttered.
"Remind yourself who's telling who to do what, and who brought the trouble,"
said the gnome pointedly.
Cyprian sighed. He knew the gnome was right. Just didn't feel like he was
"Anywhos, y'need to go so I can get back to m'business," the gnome demanded.
"Y'dont have the best luck. I dont want y'rubbing off on me."
Cyprian looked around, which way should he go again..?
Noticing the gnome ranger had already taken off a good distance, Cyprian
called out after him, "Hey, which way do I go???"
"I wouldn't yell around here if I were 'y. Forest creatures dont like loud
noises," the gnome retorted. "Just shut y'trap and keep moving east from
here. Y'should run into Seringale."
Probably the best advice ever right now. Keeping his mouth shut. As
Cyprian looked east, a myriad of uncertainty and confusion washed over him.
What to do next was plain. He should head to Seringale and at least
freelance. He'd be an idiot to return to that village, so he felt.
Fat Hilda's Mirror
Haughty, riding in the seat of scorn.
Running through the wood, amidst a storm.
I sought the troll den of Tenebria,
To fetch a ring for whom it should be worn.
A colossal tree blocked the way west.
Obviously any other direction was best.
Lightning split sky, heart jumped chest.
South was the choice, I forgot the rest.
Shielding eye from the pelting rain,
Reminiscence took hold, memory of her pain.
Often and enough, her eyes watered again.
That face was more to me than friend.
"Lihra" was the name, uttered my heart.
How did it end, when did we start...?
Another flash, thunder howled once more.
That same instant, my heart wrenched sore.
Tell the relation between sound and thought,
That rumbling should rouse what meant for naught?
Curious to know why my own eyes blurred wet:
Lihra, who are you? Why does my heart fret?
Wandering aimless along the dusty trail,
I missed silken gray that made branches wail.
Had I payed attention, I'm happy to bet
I'd never lost footing, never into the hag's net.
"Hello dearie, want some of this?"
The sight was enough to make crocodiles hiss.
"I'll help you escape," said she.
"But first you must give me a kiss!"
Chins-a-plenty, more creases than a feather,
"Kiss you?" I thought. "Certainly know better."
Haughty returned, scorn resumed to swell.
Kiss this rhino? Better chance that cold was hell.
Thus I began to threaten, yea, even barter
That I might not suffer as a romance martyr.
Grinning she, "That won't get you anywhere,"
Couldn't get away with so much a glare.
"What if I sang for you," finally I reasoned,
Drawing from a past I'd rather none listen.
Caught her interest, this woman none christened.
So rhymed I, (believe you'd sooner some other errand.)
Uninspired, I contrived very paltry progressions,
Yet she didn't yawn, nor afford patronization.
Patient she listened, as decently entertained.
Anyone else, their eardrums would bleed for pain.
At melody's end she gave me the spotted pill.
"Fair is fair," said she. I figured she was needy.
Putting it to my lips, I hesitated, though ready.
Odd this Hilda, honoring a bargain with me.
Ported back to the forest, my mind gave pause.
Was it really her, or did she accommodate -my- loss?
I headed back to town, Brumblwitz that scallywag,
Disrupting introspection with silly games of tag!
Still, he's a good friend, impediments considered.
Soon I realized, whom Fat Hilda had mirrored.
A veil had moved, scales fell that I'd see.
She wasn't bested of bargain, the loser was me.
In honoring the promise I made her, ink I this hour,
That, being the measure of a man, his word won't sour.
Hear it now, take note, ye:
That even old Fat Hilda can bestow pity.
And become a freelancer he did. He did keep his mouth shut for a bit, but
it wasn't long before he resumed speaking freely again. As of yet commit-
ting to neither path nor guild, still wayward; still a vagabond. Or was
As wayward, you don't care how you are. As a vagabond, you don't care
where you are. Ever burdening his mind, both these notions only cloaked
themselves in him to the extent that wanderlust might impersonate purpose.
So really, he was neither. Then was he running?
Run from the past fast enough, you lose your present. Lose your present
long enough, you render juxtapositions of both past and future indistingu-
ishable. This becomes a problem as they blur over the line between themse-
lves. The past becomes your focus, the present remains behind you and the
future never passes under your nose. After a while, their positions invert
within the mind until finally, you're running backwards in-place.
Stuck in a stationary wheel.
Was he running? No. Beside that, how do you run from something you don't
remember. He may have been coasting. In life though, you should make
efforts to find yourself, then lay claim to a path. If you're not doing
that, you either retreat or coast. Descent may line the paths of both.
These were the thoughts that Cyprian's experiences had slowly roused in
in his mind. Will some be swallowed later than others? Who can say.
Oh How it Was (1)
Oh how it was, the things that used to be.
Together, east of New Solace. You. Me.
"Lihra my dear, know Unsiliel Wood yonder?"
"Take my hand, would you that we wander?"
She gauged the sky; toward the wood, a glance.
"Mother still cooks, the sun is still mid-dance,"
As she finished the smile, her hand met mine firm.
So headed we to a spontaneous sojourn.
Several furlongs out we entered the trees,
"Don't get lost," she grinned, "-You- leading me."
Snarky ranger, Lihra could navigate and lurk.
"Worry not. I've an able hound along," I smirked.
She released my hand and rolled her eyes.
Considering my remark, it was no surprise.
"What," I said. "Losing your mind?"
"If ever you chose to sing, that'd be sublime."
Playfully irked, "Let's settle this in a race."
She giggled a pivot, kicked dirt to my face.
Lihra called out, "Think you'll outrun me?"
Off she went, but I acquainted a tree.
I loved that about her. She had great spirit.
We poked one another, made memories of it.
Played jokes at expense for the other's benefit.
So off I ran, or I'd never hear end of it.
Picking up speed, I hurdled bushes & dodged shrubs.
I ran where sound led me, sometimes from above.
For Lihra often swung trees without incident.
As she returned aground, she tripped into a pit.
"Lihra!" I shouted, gaining stretch I didn't want.
No response. Thank heavens I noticed her drop.
Hasting, heeding the urge to get her out of it,
I peered, then jumped in. Sun began its descent.
I looked her over. Not wounded, but unconscious.
Glanced up the pit's height, enough to stack both us.
Searching belt pouches, I found her bitter herbs.
Put one to her nose. "We'll call a draw," she slurs.
"Cheater" I said, concerned but slightly amused.
"We should head back," I said. "Day begins fade."
"Mhm," she said. "I'll bid beast to help us away."
Wish I'd known ahead, what we'd discover that day....
No. How it -Is- (2)
When we saw it, I didn't know what to say.
The pain, seeing her filial semblence fall away.
Once brimming with life, her color failed.
A spark left her eyes, something waxed frail.
Helping her up, I felt the air wane colder.
Sniffing the air, Lihra peered over shoulder.
I smelled it too. A faint sort of putrescence.
I didn't care for why then. Time was of essence.
Shaking my head, "The moon'll soon be over us."
She narrowed eyes at me, "Cyprian. I'm curious."
Shutting my own to absorb settled irritation,
I reluctantly agreed to a fateful exploration.
Thinking back, the realization later took hold.
The pit was an entrance, meant unseen to all.
At the time, didn't know why there or what for.
Lihra tripped a hinge that opened in. Trap door.
After what seemed like miles, stomach turned.
Took to the bottle for what that day I'd learn.
A dark reality I never expected, so unsettling.
The memory a drug would later end up quieting.
Quietly, we both moved down the dark tunnel.
Felt the further we got, a promise more dismal.
Crude sconces sparsely lined either dank wall.
We spotted a thick door ending the earthen hall.
Drawing near, I knocked Lihra's hand aside.
She shouldn't turn a knob for unknowns inside.
Either side the door, there were keyholes: two.
We both knelt & damned our eyes to look through.
A thin figure with a bulbous head, bidding a man.
I knew him, and he placed something in its hand.
The whips of mauve tentacles briefly writhed.
After a slurp, it tossed an empty skull aside.
I didn't want to believe it. How..? Why???
It was lucky: their backs toward she and I.
Turning to Lihra, I saw her fear give rise.
How can I imagine? What she knew, now a lie?
At a time the sun cast its descending stripe,
For her sake I tried to muzzle truth's light.
Hand over her mouth, I bore her away from sight.
I knocked her out. "She must've *dreamt* the fright."
I curse the instant now. It was at Gnome Village.
Viscous opening in lieu a mouth. Bulbed appendage.
I knew to what variant belonged that creature.
The memory then surfaced. I understood it better.
So this is what circumstance had left behind.
If I returned, doubt any longer much to find...
His reason for leaving family pro tem to survey,
More likely it was a willful, dubious foray.
Base degenerate. More than hypocrisy in hand.
Costing Lihra, deceit with intent soaked the man.
Esmund the actor. Necromancer. Father of worst kind...
...trough-bearer & ass-kisser to the flayer of minds.
Words Thinly Veiled from the Start
"Old Thalos?!" she said. "Dear, you're kidding!"
"Location, Mihlda. Else my studies mean nothing."
"What about the danger? It's uninhabitable!"
"Your ring is my promise everything's possible."
Thus said Esmund, playing emphasis to her finger.
"But what can we do there on wealth so meager?"
"Don't worry, love," he said. "It's not forever."
"I hope not! I didn't marry to live in a cot!"
"No. It's because your heart saw what 'eye' cannot."
They both laughed, & Mihlda sighed thoughtfully.
"What do you study, Esmund? You never tell me."
"Sometimes we bed, then into the night you flee."
"I study life," he said. "I set the priceless free."
"You're so cryptic, dear. What's that all mean?"
Esmund smirked, "I didn't win you as an open book."
She giggled, "It's true. Your mystery won me."
"It's alright, Esmund. You've a way with honesty."
"The way your eyes met mine with weighed intent,"
"Soon as I saw this ring, I felt what you meant."
Mihlda wisped dreamily, finger along a cup of tea.
"I've a sense for these. I know you won't leave me."
"I still worry about our unborn," she lipped tight.
"Promise me? In Thalos you'll protect she and I."
"Long as I live, I'll let nothing harm either hair."
"The protection has already been placed over there."
"I've raised the help of much more than a few."
"Once there, I've plans to study my love for you."
"Oh, Esmund," Milda smiled, hand on her belly, with-child.
"And I'll make your life so much more the while."
Esmund said, "Planned around you are studies I do."
"One day, you'll see them..."
"...I'll perfect them in you..."
Luck Marches Time On (1)
"...Fer one, what makes yu dink ta follow Vanisse?"
"Dem reason is...."
----but his rough wizened voice trailed off as its echoes cascaded like do-
minos, tumbling its descent down a spiral staircase bolted along my swirl-
My answer was ready...but it wasn't the time. Still I latched onto the
question asked so pointedly without reserve. Part of me kept with the int-
erview, and another part dove for introspection. How do you even begin to
answer such a soul-staked inquiry? Lord Varliv meant it rhetorical, but
my heart swallowed it literal. It's the kind of subject that turns one's
gut inside-out, though not for doubt.
Like grasping the pivot of an axed pendulum to comprehend the strength of
its swings: you built it, you already know. But to actually feel again the
oscillation around the foundation you laid, it grips you to the core if
there were any passion found in the mortar of your soul.
Question the reason behind one's faith in a deity - blasphemy? No.
Clarity. Here I found myself more compelled to preach than to explain.
There are many reasons to worship the Lady Vanisse. Some reasons win defa-
ult by pragmatism as it's applied to the metaphysical, but not a single
one needs to line up with anything but a mortal's own mind, own soul and
own heart. These coalesce to form the ability to choose, and a choice is
where it starts.
Time surrounds us all, and Luck dots our lifespans in it. Put the two
together, and you get Fate. Time is all, but it's nothing without events
to divide itself by. These events rotate around mercies of Luck, which
draws the web between one mortal and countless more, granting Time its
ambient flow around them and within them. Owing its march forward to
events fortunate or unfortunate, Time makes Thera a living organism all
her own as Luck oils her cogs. These cogs are mortals, and Luck
gives them life. It gives them a measure by which to esteem one dream
above another, or consider one aspiration against the other. Mortals live
and die by their dreams, and every fiber of their being is defined by the
very same. This is why I believe Lady Vanisse oversees the Heralds. They
are a tinder intended to help stoke the flames of events, or smother old
ones that new ones might keep Thera's veins from clogging in stagnation.
That Thera might not lack circulation. That mortals can enjoy a steady
flow of chances. A continual flip of the coin. Lady Vanisse is the gener-
ous harbinger of endless opportunity.
Then there's Memory. Time, Luck, Fate: and Memory strings them all toge-
ther as records are kept on either parchment or in one's mind. The Heralds
act in this function as well, with every Mystique they publish.
The Pledge (2)
So why worship the gold and luminescent?
This majestic divine, at times adolescent.
Bite the tongue before you bark that cue.
With such scrutiny, it has nothing to do.
She amplifies a life that can't be snuffed.
Spark unquenched, she shares so all get enough.
Lift your eyes and see, she flinches not once.
All millenia to her may be less than a month.
Thus I press the quill to ink another archive,
What can't be said enough: the Lady is alive.
Whether I be sick & destitute, or rich & healthy:
My name is Cyprian.
It's Lady Vanisse I worship.
Because she inspires me.
It was good time in the Mocker's Tavern. Vanisse, Talyira, Grewin..I
didn't dare drink two at once, one at a time was enough and it took all
I had to maintain even an eighth of their coherence....
I don't hold strong drink like I used to...
Gnome hair in seafood curry, just the excuse I needed to expel what
I'd tried to hold, in a hurry. Pickled pixie grog...all by then had
become a blur as I dueled Grimjark, lost and left Serin to pass out
as a log.
So much on the mind, even after a great deal spent in certain places
The Frozen Past...The Void...the cloud city...
Final thoughts flickered, and I fell sleep...
"..if you take the stage, take it deliberately. If you trip on your
way up, follow-through with an exaggerated fall, and barrel-roll into
a provided instrument or stool. Seize every opportunity to make you-
rself the punch-line if you must. If you end up the fool, forget
yourself and remember it's not your ego you're being hired to stroke.
It's to stroke the egos of your audience. To captivate and set them
at ease, at merry or at sorrow. Whether at your expense or gain,
leave concern over that at the threshold of your dwelling the minute
you set out to the next bar. Latch onto even every delivery, and
"If you can't do as little as laugh at yourself after you've sworn
even upon a deity's altar that you'd never do so, you have no
business being a bard."
So remained this advice with myself, in youth, above all other
pointers that my father Gipp had ever disclosed - and being drunk
not only made it easier, but enhanced its application. Abandoning
family without so much a word, joining a small troupe when first
they were heard, and meeting Lihra along a route. It'd have seemed
the perfect setup for what haphazard romance novels are all about.
That wasn't what Time had in store.
Reckless pursuits flared by any whim along the lines of cursory
living. From well-to-do rearing by Albenelda and Gipp, to selfish &
half-cocked venturing with the sole intent of indulging a chance at
fortune on my own terms; but failing Lihra for being consumed by
what I had seen of the Dark, despite Light's flame.
With every moment to the next, your Chances flip at every step. The
coin...does it ever truly land? Or does it remain on an axis anchored
to the soul? Slowing revolutions intermittently and sifting the march
of Time that it brings to pass over you, the coin may only ever land
when you draw the final breath. One of two results is the weighed
accumulation of choices made in this coil. So Luck then deals a final
hand in judging either your eternal rest, or damnation.
In death, unheard frequencies of your coin stop bouncing off those
found rippling from coins of others. The returning half of that
equation no more finds a medium off which to reflect. Rather it finds
an absence, and crests over a buried husk. Exit, "stage-blight." So
ends a participant's bow as Luck's swaying hand departs her waltz in
...had it been that long.....?
Was Lihra potentially such a casualty I was responsible for? I wonde-
red. Things began to unfold that'd eventually drive me to make time
to honor her Memory at the end of a broken bridge above the river Azial.
I'd accepted the possibility of her death, and my partial responsib-
ility for it. Not under shades of woe, but more under shades of the
hushed & sedate. A second bout of introspection reared after I chanced
upon an avian shadow.
By no means immediate were the consistent engagements of discourse had
with her. Advances within the guild had to be made. I counted her
among the lost within evil's shade. Friends developed along the way.
Idle nonsense were recorded for rumored banter. Frequent trips to Van-
isse's temple were made in hopes I'd understand her. Offered up gno-
*SCRIBBLE* afforded gnomes honor for their agreeable bravery. Played
the toad for whim at Lord Varliv's feet. So much it all was after, the
this-and-that, here-and-there, why-and-what. First a novice, then a Ch-
ronicler; humbled as Luck's adept beyond all that. Things I had never
despaired against or even supposed would come to pass.
Following meetings with the avian made first the thoughts that would've
crossed my mind never, if not dead last. Those to do with turning.
She was silk-tongued and proud to the furthest. Her refined manner
could open a means of kind rapport with another, or end them slow and
disastrous. One of the two were to shed overtime.
Time's passing was linear 'til I found scrolls from one important
to me, in hands of mine...
Cursing Mortal Sight in the Quiet
But the scroll didn't matter, ultimately. By the thirty-third year of
a vaporous life other experiences shuffled themselves, long since
diverting forks available to me away from the avian thief. And though
affixed to Serin, the whorl of Fate churned the further passage of time;
once more new memories tolled the bell for the fade of old ones. All
save one reflected in a scar bestowed by the Heavens as a reminder long
ago, not to offend them.
Though as one memory that'll never wilt in me, Blyx had returned to
Acadia. Grewin soon became known as the Frozen Quill, my dual
purpose as writer and devout remained and Brumblwitz returned. The
Knights had dwindled, but Dame Shaldwyn would still abide in their
name. Serin fell quieter as nobles and others took their lives, and a
new stock of youth found their footing in the lands. Then Sevaush was
named the "Penumbral Hand," as though a portent of something that may
come to pass as our collective Luck pushes us all toward our somewhat
In the midst of all this, my vision laid casual hold on a driven congl-
omerate of scale and skin. Will I live to see her passions fade under
the waves of time, as well?
I curse the limits of mortal sight, though I acknowledge their importance
in multiplying the potential of growing wiser at the feet of learned
Singularity of Fascination
---but maybe it's best that mortal sight has a cordon about it. If I
had known ahead of time the things that would come to pass, events
would have been spoiled. And not just for me, but also for those that
sway along the weaves of Fate's grand tapestry near my own thread.
Never coming to pass as they had, the events of life would lose corre-
ctive power and reality would lose its touch. Becoming surreal,
reality would become so much more the game some mortals already
attempt to play it as, skirting the 'rules' they add to others in
order to get ahead. Whatever the cost.
Nigh forty years old and the literate mantle I did my best to avoid
was dropped over me. If I saw it coming, it would not have happened.
Not to say I ever aspired to it, but in knowing beyond what we're
given to see, it's like throwing a lance into the spokes of carriage
wheels. Or like wearing armor you aren't ready for, wielding a weapon
yet too heavy for you and rushing headlong to a premature death in a
battle you weren't yet meant for. And who's to say what is or isn't
meant to happen? Limitless clairvoyance can't give me that answer.
Perhaps I was meant to wear the mantle?
"I believe you were sent here," one has told me.
"We deserve you," another had said in passing before that.
"I'll leave that for you to decide," yet another infers, hundreds
of times in thousands of different ways.
Kind words in the former two, irritating simplicity in the final third.
Choice is a simple thing, and its importance to an individual
is even more painfully clear. I will still insist there is more under
and beyond the veil of those two basic rudiments. Time is a mistress
of attrition, your rations are memories, choice is your sword and Fate
is your victory; but I insist there is still more underneath it all.
Vanisse, perceiving I was about to 'spin my wheels' over a plan not
worth disclosing here, offered me supernatural transport to a plane.
A plane where destruction and creation swirl opposite each other in a
symbiosis of cooperation. A menacing amount of power without limit,
without threshold. Beyond number....
I was reminded how little I knew when I entered it. I left it
only wanting to return, understanding even less. Everything I study
apart from healing, writing and my worship exalts itself there...with
infinite acclaim. A glorification outshining even the anomaly of the
Surreal Graft in the Contiuum?
I've been taken to an interesting place, compliments of Blarp. I'd been
there once, but I had forgotten about it as my climbing ability was much
too lacking. Neither was flight any help. The place that seems so far
removed from its surroundings that it's as though it instead serves as a
mask for what's really there...or what's supposed to be (yet isn't). And
it's not the Void I'm talking about. It's nearby Clearwater Lake. No
matter how much I try, my feet fail to get a hold on the mountain face.
Others may have an easier time, though.
In one way or another it ended up driving my interests toward time once
again. Because wherever there is a space, time must be involved. I've
inked it before: if there is space, when is it? If there is time, where is
it? By this mindset I believe the two to be inseparable. Time is as much
a map as Serin's geography is, and it charts events the same way
star-gazers chart locations of celestial bodies, and the movements thereof.
The same way cartographers plot mountains, roads, valleys, forests and towns
they survey. But how does one definitively map a portion of space that
gives reason to doubt its very reality? So what is reality. Reality is a
machine and Luck is its fuel. Now there are those who retort that reality
is what you make it. Or, "reality is entirely subject to perception." You
may even provide extant examples to support that.
I know but aren't they, and others like them, isolated at a deep interpers-
onal level? Oracles of renown and sages of dispensed wisdom are isolated
to the same extent, but this is more along the lines of veneration and/or
irreconcilable differences in cerebral threshold between audience and
"seer." Whereas isolation of the insane is much more to do with inconsis-
tencies, thoughts and behaviors that ultimately revolve around no dependable
reason. They may have their time to shine, but overtime mania consumes
them, and their once cryptic babble becomes a jigsaw puzzle with neither
border nor picture. Nothing to portray when you step back and attempt to
put all that they've said together as a single clear tapestry. I'm aware
there are those that suspect me to become the latter. Maybe I'm already
there. Who can say? Maybe so. To the off-topic at hand...
Yes, reality is subject entirely to perception. I submit though that the
consequences for losing touch with it are not up to subjection or debate.
Otherwise, there's no truth in it and then all truth is but a malleable
philosophy that changes with "the times." A favored red bouncy ball we
mortals can slap about in our playpens of professed "wisdom." No, only
philosophy changes with the times. The truths they anchor from do not.
You can only practice the perception argument so far before you render
yourself a convulsive cog inappropriate for use. Use in reflecting the
reality we all inahbit, for yourself and others. Because you're then lost
in a reality noone else shares, by-and-large. Your 'own reality.' This is
the line between reality and illusion.
Back in focus of the second paragraph, what can I find in this fantastic
representation of what could be a strain of time-space? Is the portion
there being sustained or patched over? It doesn't appear to belong there
from the distance at which I can see it. How can I visually sever the
surreal from the reality that it's grafted into? A question mark on the
temporal map simply won't do. I may never find a way up or even the reason
behind this anomaly. Still it's just one of many things in Serin that have
But both Buxiz and Grewin have suddenly passed on. There are more tangible
things to take care of...and lives to remember.
"In becoming one with Time, you submit yourself to the power that is over
it," Lord Thorgoth said in reference to eternity, as I paraphrase it
here. The divine titan's implication wasn't lost on me. To just become
one with Time, ascension is part-and-parcel. How much more then, to
actually control it?? I can now define the intangible wall I started to
plant my face into half a decade ago. I was making much progress in
understanding the threshold of Time and its utility in creating Memory,
but after a while, all progress seemed to halt itself. No matter how
much I exploited the mind's ability to possess no boundaries if one only
stepped across the readily known within it. I needn't have had to get
a closer look at that surreal graft north of Timaran. Hypotheses can
be used to narrow down possibility...though it's a bit more tedious.
Still, it was as though they were blocked from being pondered.
I can't explain it.
In my potentially flawed opinion, pursuits to ascend or in attaining a
power only viable in ascension will slowly corrupt the mortal soul. So
I will put down the endeavor, seeing as I might have foreshadowed my
future disposition in some of my writing in the prior archive. I see
why the Lady Vanisse had asked me what it was I sought every now and
again. Perhaps she already knew, and wanted me to admit what I ...
refused to see for myself. My answer always fled me. No, my subconscious
would merely chase it away. Now my answer would truly be blank.
Forty-five years into existence, twenty-seven years into a severed
destiny from Lihra, seventeen years into the pursuit of Time, ...its
discard leaves me unfamiliar. Almost empty. Though...something unspoken
existed even before my study into Time..beneath it all.
If I weren't a Herald or an Apostle, I might just disappear.
Departing Herald's Roster
So another gale blows. Another tempest spins. Another wind gusts.
The quill and I had a lengthy official foray, but it is so: that in
this coil, all things must come to an end. Everything. But what a
glorious zephyr experience is; and that, when it is made opportune.
Luck is the translation, but the opportunity derived from it isn't
your possession. No. Opportunity is Fate's honor, yet she bestows
it on they whom she will. From there it will become a fortune or
misfortune, depending on how the mortal happens to have pivoted his
or her circumstance up to the point of endowment.
Somehow, I'm plotted in a manner where neither fortune nor misfort-
une apply in choosing to resign from the Heralds. It is proving a
void transition. A tranquil transition? The exact word to descri-
be it escapes me. I am not yet officially gone from the coterie,
but my intent will remain until I am. For now, Pym's tasks need to
be overseen and a successor needs to be chosen after that. Perhaps I
may leave succession to the Heavens' discretion. I shudder to
imagine the amount of headsocks Blarp might want to prepare for me
once he hears the news. I know this is the proper course. I
consulted the wishing well just outside Vanisse's temple, to either
affirm or negate my decision, after I dispatched a scroll fueled by
secular choice. It was affirmed.
I've learned more than I could have ever conceived in leading the Her-
alds; it's unfortunate I couldn't teach Serin in any proportion equal
to that from within the Mystique. I will also not skirt the fact
that under my leadership, official Herald events were a hair's shy of
non-existence. When one leaves a position of leadership, one should
give an account of clear failures, while leaving any successes to be
given witness by the mouths of others.
I do not know what I will do with myself besides contributing my own
scrolls as a free quill when inspiration courts me. But I can do
little else for the Heralds when such a tumult festers within Serin's
outer sphere from where I make entry - this much is certain.
Better that Herald be headless for a time, than that a hollow and
slumbering crest should lead it in a dive to utter descent.
As with other entries in this journal, I scribe this to remind me where
I've been, so to lessen the risk of living a circle. Neither improving
Nothing is worse for a life than to have a beginning that lacks distinction
from its end, save an aimless and equidistant crescendo between the two...
for therein would no story be found. Neither any lessons imparted.
A balding, blue-eyed human male possessing a height of five feet and eight
inches is here. Cut to hang no lower than his eyes, his short black hair
has started to thin and recede at the corners of his forehead. Substantial
graying of his hair is apparent on one side as it creeps toward the back
of his scalp. Framing an area underneath a pair of mildly prominent cheek-
bones is a full black beard with graying roots. A square-ish facial frame
bears some sharp distinctions. A straight nose separates a pair of aging
eyes that downturn toward the outer corners, contrary to flat dark eyebro-
ws that angle gradually opposite that. A naturally broken capillary fades
in from the inner corner of his right eye. It swoops just under the right
cheekbone, and fades out as it passes. His build is average, framed by
slouching shoulders that are a bit broad. A faded scar peeks out from
underneath his apparel, slanting its end over his right sternoclavicular
joint. He's missing his left forefinger, and a dove-winged emerald lyre
shimmers on the back of that same hand.