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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Intermission-Meeting Elise

(A/N:  Rough snapshots of the beginning of a dream.) 

It woke me in the night, a slight exhalation of foul air above me.  The gentle scrape of enamel against my skin.  As quickly as I turned, it was gone.  A receding shadow among layered multitudes cast off from the gas lamp in front of my window.  Another dream, I swear.  This new house is getting to me, or my mind is getting to it.  The place is too damned massive, too empty for its grandeur.  It's not just the house, it's the town as well.  Smiling faces, vapid, everywhere you turn.  They love me, yet I am alone.
Tapping against the grimy window, a pale hand is followed by a ragged head in a torn white chemise.  "Let me out", she croaks.  I was exploring the sheds along the woodline.  Work was slow at the fruit stand today, and by slow I mean nonexistent.  Perhaps this will change my luck?  I may have found my first friend.  "Well?  I'm waiting."  I stumble forward and heave against the rusted hinges, falling hard with the door upon me in a cloud of dust.  She tests the threshold, looks at me, and lunges for the cold shelter of the trees.  "Thanks!"  Sigh.  I'm going to be late. 
Riad chuckles as he plucks an errant twig from my hair.  My face is on fire.  "Come on.  Since you're new, let me be the one to introduce you to our little carnival.  Where would you like to start?"  I toss between the ring of fire and the ring toss but the one reeks of sweated vomit and the other's line is down the walk.  "The mirror hause?"  He bows, graciously mocking.  "Just try not to lose me."
I spin rapidly in what I think to be the center of the maze, giddy in the symmetry of this new-found world.  I think I enjoy being lost.  There is a wonderful liberty when you know you are completely alone.  I blush ever harder as someone laughs behind me.  "Is that why you were so close to the woods?"  She's in black jeans and an emerald tee now.  I must have spoken aloud.  "I didn't see you there.  I see everything in here."  She ignores me, dodging between mirror panes.  "Why did you run from me?  Who trapped you there?"  She runs faster and faster, creating a whirlwind, her midnight hair whipping in a long black streak.  I fall to my knees, choking on the lack of air.  As quickly as it came it went, and she is before me concerned.  "Sorry.  I wanted to see if I still could."  Still coughing, I glare.  "Why are you here?  I help and you hurt.  What do you want of me?"  "I wanted to say thanks, properly.  Didn't mean to leave you in a rush.  I was a bit out of sorts, you see.  Name's Elise."  I take her outstretched hand. "Waterson, Cami. Moved here last week. I too am out of sorts.  That's why I was talking to myself. I'm not weird or anything."  Ugh.  The mirrors may be pristine but the dust-caked ground did horrors to my new jeans.  I cannot go around greeting people in dirty clothes.  "Don't worry about it, love. You weren't speakin aloud.  Anyway...I'll see you around?  Get you a coffee or something."  "Oh...alright."  Wait a second...what?  But she's gone and I can hear Riad calling for me to the northeast.  I suppose later it shall have to be.  
I feel Riad's gaze on the nape of my neck, like an unfocused laser.  I refuse to look at him as we walk back to my father's house.  "You ditched me as soon as we entered.  I thought you said you wanted to have some fun?"  He pulls my back against him and takes us to the side.  In the shadow of the courthouse parking lot against the cooling bricks, I only see the gleam of his grin, knife-sharp cheeks, and deep pockets where his eyes should be.  His ragged breath sets me on edge.  "Riad...don't screw with me.  I am not afraid of hurting you."  And he lets me go.  "You think I'm capable of hurting you?"  His tone is offended, but whether mocking or hurt I cannot tell.  His dark face is ever darker in silhouette.  "I may like you, but I do not trust easily.  We just met yesterday!  I don't know you."  I wrench myself from him.  He sighs, playing the wounded card.  "Not yet, but you will."  Let's see...east, Bluff road.  "I think I can walk myself home now.  Goodnight, Riad."  "It isn't safe at night!", he calls after.  Hm...I think I like running too.  It brings a sense of mindless clarity.
"I'm hoooome!"  Echo...Echo...Echo...  "Hi, how was your night, Camilia?  Oh, it was good, Papi.  Thanks for asking.  How was the dinner with Martha at the Botanical Garden?  It was fantastic.  I'm sorry I obeyed my wife's iron fist and didn't let you come but I'll make it up to you.  How about we go skating tomorrow?  The whole afternoon, just me and you, like we used to..."  I lay my head against the glass' cool surface.  This is a pointless exercise.  *DING-DONG*  I take the shortcut past the pool outside, through the zoo hedges, and tackle her into the bushes before Martha opens the door.  "Elise!!  It's the middle of the night.  What on earth are you doing here?", I hiss.  A muffled gurgle is my only response.  Martha slams the door with a grumbled, "Pranksters in this neighborhood at this godforsaken hour..."  I slowly remove my hand from over her mouth and stand gingerly.  I did not notice, but a part of me is wet and burning.  "I told you I was bringin coffee."  She points to the spilled tray of espresso, cream, and croissants.  "Figured you could use a girl's night after what that asshole tried to do.  Is there something wrong with the doorway?"  "No.  Nothing's wrong with it, just its keeper.  Let's continue this in my room, before your coffee permanently sears my crotch."
(A/N: nighty night. Test study time tomorrow. Calc two and multi dimen. Wish me luck? Or don't. It's cool. )  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"The Rise and Fall of the World We Knew", Metropolis Index Page.

Will be revised, updated, et cetera...
I will write as I can.  The semester has begun. 
Any suggestions or constructive criticisms are always appreciated.
What I originally had, which will be deleted once this is done.  It didn't settle right, a boring read.  An index of the gods will be included later as well in a separate post, based on this and some rougher reference materials I have written prior.  For these, names/powers/consorts are based loosely upon the ancient Anglo-Saxon and Celtic pantheons.  New material is in bold.
(Lugus was the capitol, in whose domain were creation and learning.  It's allies were as follows in the order of their value to Lugus: Belenus, in whose domain was the art of healing.  Debranua, in whose domain were the ways of trade and butchery.  Erecura, in whose domain was the science of agriculture.  Andarta, in whose domain were the ways of war.  Rosmerta, in whose domain were great abundance and proliferation.  Belisama, in whose domain were light, flame, lake, and wave.  Alaunus, in whose domain were magic and prophecy.  Dea Matrona, in whose domain was protection of the young and infirm.  Sucellos, in whose domain were love and time.  Sulis, in whose domain were the sun, life, and grave curses.  Lastly, Ankou, whose domain was simply death.) 

 Note: Cities are listed in order of their perceived value to the central government head-quartered in Lugus. 


As a pleasant island in the midst of a turgid sea, Lugus was naturally the safest place for kings, governors, and businessmen to hide themselves when the first reliable reports were heard of settlements and nations alike falling to an unbeatable foe.  From such affluent influences, Lugus has risen from a tiny tropical resort to the centre of all academic learning and decision-making within the provinces, if not the remaining world.  Each building is the embodiment of its inhabitants.  One might feel dainty by the massive spires of accounting, supported by the marble pillars of governance, or lost amidst the sweeping arcs of the Grand Theatre, to name a few.  However the massive jade and granite temple located on the northern cliffs is truly the jewel of the city, aesthetically, and for its great treasury of knowledge.  It is what gives Lugus its legacy.      


While Lugus sees that the past is remembered and the present preserved, Belenus looks to the future as the pinnacle of science and innovation for this age.  Located on the forested hills that reach between Erecura's vineyards and the first of Debranua's sprawling markets, Belenus in two words is standardly shiny.  It is mainly comprised of white or metallic block-like buildings, most being the secretive labs responsible for a great deal of our current lifestyle and the rest are living compounds for its hive of workers.  The exception to this rule is the unmistakable rainbow-painted clinical in the center of the city which offers the latest in healing technologies to any who choose to make the pilgramage, supposedly as an act of charity.  







Dea Matrona:





Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Brief History: A New Beginning

There came to be twelve major cities, districts of a sort, formed and united by conflict with creatures so monstrous they are known only as the Forsaken.  Each city was named by their intellectuals after the patron gods of the people, in recognition that there would always be forces beyond their control.  This was known then as the domain of destiny.  For a detailed description of the cities' formation, please see my dissertation, "The Rise and Fall of the World We Knew".  Where smaller cities fell and were consumed, these twelve metropolises distinguished themselves through their technological advancements and dedication to each other.  They were able to beat back and rise above the threat, for a time.  As the scores passed, the people grew complacent in their security, lax in the ties that bind.  They forgot the horrors beyond their portion of the world and contented themselves with petty plays of power.  Science gave way to superstition; logical progress came to a halt as once again religion was used by the elite to mold and subjugate the populace.
One late summer morn the faithful metal Guardians of the outer-lying city of Ankou suddenly shut down, unbeknownst to the citizens until a legion of Forsaken came down upon them.  Only the city's queen survived as she was visiting Lugus during the slaughter, negotiating terms for her assassins on loan.  The organization of these so-called mindless beasts as they moved towards the capitol was astounding, accustomed as the soldiers were to the slobbering infected hordes from the stories of old.  None were prepared.  Seeing the smoking wreckage from afar, the surviving rulers gathered together the priests to make pleas unto the gods in their desperation as it was discovered that all Guardians in each of the cities were out of commission and none were left alive who knew their inner workings.  Surprisingly a response was received, quickly and with clarity, from each of the city's patron gods and communicated to their rulers by the chief priest and mighty prophet, Avarus: "Eleven children of royal heritage will be born.  To these children celestial powers shall be given, so that in them we might be saved.  And they shall be to us as gods amongst mortals, as strangers amongst their own people, as living sacrifices to purge this horrendous blight from our land."

I slam the book shut and shove it under my lesson pile as the archive door softly creaks.  Each heavy footstep in time with my spasming heart makes it harder to find my place in the boring text.  Proditor's sonorant voice booms over my shoulder, "And what marvellous things are we learning today, my little prodigy?"  He chuckles happily when I tackle him, tangling his priestly robes.  "I think you like making me worry.  The journal said the fire had taken half the eastern forest.  They said the death-count was still unknown.  Why must you put yourselves in danger?"  Fineas knocks on my head from behind.  "Because he wouldn't let them use my awesomeness to find the people up close.  Instead I got stuck listening to Barnabas and his stupid parables."  Proditor hoists a tubby Fineas up on his hip.  "That would be because I care about you, boy, and it is not the place of children, no matter how special, to fight the battles of men.  Besides, you could learn something from Barnabas.  Perhaps his selflessness, to begin."  Fineas sticks out his lower lip and tongue.  "But I could have helped.  If you had let me walk with you, I could have found more of them."  Proditor breathes a heavy sigh.  "If I had known the plant would explode, I never would have taken you with me but there is a lesson to be learned in all this.  Do you remember the parable of the shepherd and his ninety-nine sheep?"  Fineas rolls his eyes but I remember.  I remember everything once I know it.  "It was during a great cyclone.  The lonely shepherd had seen the storm coming from his position on the cliffs, so he hurriedly herded his hundred sheep into the shelter of a warm cave.  From the shelter, the lonely shepherd counted and recounted his sheep but one was missing.  It was the sheep he most treasured, the lamb he had nursed when he was a boy.  Between the wind, he faintly heard his little lamb crying for him near the cliffs, helpless against the elements.  Though his heart cried in return, the shepherd stayed with the ninety-nine through the storm."  Proditor nods thoughtfully.  "Good, Cate.  Perfect as always.  But do you know why he stayed?"  I shake my head in shame as Phineas speaks up, his somber tone the more pronounced by his toddler lilt.  "For the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few."  "Yes, my boy.  That is why I could not let you.  You and Cate are meant for great things, amazing things.  Your lives are worth a thousand refugees."

The next day I choose a different scroll from behind the hundredth brick in the temple archive.  I have to be more careful.  Someone hid these for a reason.

A Note on the Forsaken
Due to the massive loss of information from the time of the original infection and following wars, we have had to largely begin our research anew.  The following is some of what we have been able to glean from the Kashish journals your scoping team provided: "In the family of Forsaken there are many varieties but two genera stand out: The Cranks, and the Revenants.  In looks and predatory characteristics, the two are obversely related yet they are products of the same insidious plague said to have been brought down as divine retribution.  The Revenants are often dark or even purplish in color with astounding mental fortitude and physical speed.  The Cranks are generally pale, appearing bleached, with impressive physical strength and tough leathery skin.  Nothing but the greatest force or direct sun can damage a Crank.  In comparison, the Revenants are quite fragile.  However, they are considered the greater of the two genera.  While the Revenants are less appreciable to the naked eye, they are highly organized, with many being capable of speech.  The strongest among them can even possess other creatures for a limited time, allowing them to amass entire armies as Cranks often follow a herd mentality, though many times full possession is unnecessary.  When an infection occurs, what determines which Forsaken the victim shall become depends upon their strength of will, genetic coding, and the amount of venom they were exposed to.  Those who become Cranks were determined to have a predisposition for the XPC and ERCC genes numbers two through five.  For Revenants, the singular POLH gene.  For those obscure Forsaken from whose charred remains I have examined thoroughly, the rare XPA and DDB2 genes.  Testing the population for plague susceptibility is advised."  Authorization and funds for controlled infection trials to confirm these results would be invaluable at this stage of our research.  Subjects donated from the Matrona asylum would be simplest to hide.  In answer to your question regarding the prince's samples, a meeting between us would be wise.  ~from the Excavated Personal Studies of Merak, Executive Belenusian Assistant to His Greatness, Eucairost Avarus in the Year 1006.

Over a thousand years...why would anyone abandon such an important piece of history?  Fineas' sudden sigh shakes me from my chair.  "I'm boooooooooooored.  You promised you'd play with me if I found those stupid papers and I did so now you have to."  "You're the stupid one.  This is important, Fineas.  Go outside or something."  I must read everything before whoever hid them finds they have been breached.  I can copy them from memory later.  He jumps onto the table and rips the ancient text from my hands, crumbling pieces of it into dust.  "Hey!  Be careful with that.  It is very very old."  "You.  Promised.  And a promise is a promise."  He rubs his running nose against the papyrus, forever staining the priceless remnant.  "I'll tell Proditor you made me find it and you'll be in so much trouble, he'll never let you read anything ever again!"  "Alright, alright.  Just please...put the paper down gently."  He smiles impishly, doing as I say, satisfied that I have surrendered.
The breeze outside is soft and sweet.  The cherry trees must be in bloom.  Fineas' heart flutters against my ribs excitedly.  "I think mine looks like a dragon.  Can yours beat a dragon, Caty?"  His cloud looks more like a half-birthed potato to me, but I say nothing.  He bangs his head on my abdomen, until I roll him off.  "Fine.  My cloud is that one to the right, over the hanger.  It looks like a knight to me.  A great and fantastic knight to slice your dragon limb from limb save us all from his fiery wrath."  "Oh yea?  Well my dragon has laser eyes and vomits parasite barnacles whenever he gets mad."  "Well my knight's armor is made from atomically rearranged graphite.  It will shatter your dragon's teeth, claws, reflect his lasers, and repel all barnacle suckers.  Hah!  Now that I've won, I believe we are through here."  Looking at his face I realize it isn't about winning for him, like it is for me.  "Ah, but how could I have forgotten...", I frown exaggeratedly.  "Forgotten what?"   I point to the swirling indistinct mass of white over the glider bay.  "Can't you see it?  My knight and your dragon are negotiating a treaty if your dragon will share his mountain of gold.  I'm afraid I have lost after all."  I endure him patting my head.  If this is the price of peace, I can handle it.  "Don't be sad.  Be happy.  I have a surprise for you!"           

Technicalities for the Future

Everything may be edited at any time by me.  I shall try to have the first actual post up by tomorrow, even though I know probably no one will read it.  This is more for myself than others, but I hope you might find some enjoyment or enlightenment from it.  At the moment I have approximately 27,000 words from my stint at last years Nanowrimo.  My issues are with getting everything in chronological order and not letting life suck me dry with obligations, so bear with me, O dear Reader.  I shall try to make it worth your while.