Two Snippets

A little extra bang today. I have a small snippet of the new Hard Luck, and then, if you like, stay for something from a new (Rothganar) project. 🙂

~*~

First, Hard Luck! I’m adding material, did I mention that in the previous post? I think I did. This is from a chapter right after Dingus and Vandis actually meet.

Any tulon or tulua knew what Dingus was on sight, and no one would let him more than a couple of paces into any establishment. Humans didn’t know—Vandis himself wouldn’t have known—he was anything other than an elf, but a lot of them didn’t want him around because of it. “How do they all know you’re half-blood?” he’d demanded, when the third hitul place kicked them out.

“It’s the ears,” Dingus had explained, clinically, without a trace of woe in his voice.

“What about them?”

“It’s how they’re attached to your head.” He rubbed a finger behind one, leaving a trail of dirt. “See how mine are? They point sort of up and stick out farther. A real one of the People’s ears would point back and be flatter to their head.”

Vandis had scowled and said, “You are a real—”

“No, I ain’t,” he’d said. “Ain’t human neither.”

“Then what are you?” Vandis had asked, more curious about Dingus’s idea of himself than he was concerned with grammar.

“Does it matter?”

~*~

Now a little from another project. I’m calling this one Daddy’s Little Princess, the reason for which I’ll keep to myself for now. While it’s set in the Menyoral timeline and features characters from the books, it’s not a Saga of Menyoral book at all. Trying something a little different with this one, because if you stop trying new things, art stagnates. And business, haha. Anyway, check this out.

The alleys opened their pitch-black mouths, ready to swallow anybody who got too close, looked too close if they happened to be passing when lightning came. Martin wasn’t one for destiny, and he didn’t believe in fate, but when he passed that alley, lightning flashed, and what he saw, or thought he saw, gulped him down just that quick.

There was a woman there, all tall and wet and glorious, dark blood and clear water, and in the breath he could see her, she swung down with a huge knife and split Big Jimmy Pantucci’s head. It was frozen in Martin’s mind, the woman, her long hair flying in thick wet ropes. He remembered all the stories Jacques told when he was drunk as shit, the ones about La Reine Guirriѐre and her chariot drawn by wolves. He felt like he had seen her.

He felt like he had to see her again.

Against every skill and instinct he owned, and at least one unwritten rule of the streets, Martin went straight for the maw. Lightning lashed close by, close enough to hear it crackle, and the thunder broke reality wide. Any minute he’d wake up in his pallet with the sheet sticking to his hot sweaty skin, any minute. She whacked that chopper hard into the mass of Big Jimmy and wound back again, and Martin blinked a dazzled slash out of his eyes. Rain hammered the street. Wind made his sodden clothes flap.

He took a step forward, and another step, into the alley, wishing for a mage-lantern. Another sizzling flash, so bright he almost missed her standing there with Jimmy’s dripping messy head, bloody fist in the hair.

~*~

That’s all for now! Thank you so much for choosing this article, from among millions of others published just today. ❤

 

A Hymn to Vard

I wrote this to the tune of Das Jahr ist guta German song about (surprise!) beer.

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The Lord of our brew is kind to His people
When we come together, He eases our speaking
He makes it so easy to talk one to one
The veriest stranger might pass for our mum (might pass for our mum)!

The barrel is full of treasure abounding
Drink deep of His beer, prayers and belches resounding
Let all of His people be stout in their hearts
And pray that their alewives possess His great art (possess His great art)!

When I look upon my friends and my family
I know that the Brew-Lord thinks of me quite highly
He gave me these gifts and a place to belong
Alone we are weak, but together we’re strong (together we’re strong)!

Sir Santo Puglia

Santo’s a Menyoral character. He first appears in Hard Luck and has a slightly larger role in The Service. He wasn’t in the third book, and he won’t be in the fourth. (Jury’s out on #5.)

He’s one of Vandis’s closest friends. I knew that from the beginning. I had this mental character-picture, I mean a picture of his character, not a portrait. I was thinking of a youth pastor who honestly enjoyed his work; Santo loves taking and training Squires, working with young people from Brightwater in particular (all his Squires have been young men from Brightwater). The more I asked myself how that kind of person would act, the more I liked Santo.

The problem was, he wouldn’t talk to me directly, which I say with the writerly conceit that characters “speak to” me. (Some people say they do, but for the most part they don’t to me — literally anyway.)  I couldn’t figure out where he’d come from apart from “Brightwater,” or anything about his background.

You might have noticed he’s got the same name as Puglia Fountain. Yes, he’s from the same family as the Conte, in the direct line — but unless something goes horribly wrong, he won’t inherit the title. He’s the fourth son of the family, a spare in every way.

Expect to learn more about Santo soonish.

 

Tour Guide Tuesday: Puglia Fountain

Enrico Puglia, 19th Conte di Apuglio, commissioned this spectacular fountain nearly four centuries ago to commemorate a war between Brightwater and neighboring Lightsbridge. The truce he wanted to celebrate was broken while the fountain remained in construction, but it’s still an amazing piece of public art. None of the mechanisms involved in the fountain are magical; it’s all run by simple physics.

The fountain is located in the center of a square, and depicts the gods in Naheel’s throne hall in marble and semiprecious materials. Before, it was magically preserved, but since the death of magic no effort has thus far been made to restore Puglia Fountain. Many of the stones and much of the brass fitting out the model of the Queen’s Garden has been carried away by enterprising thieves.

However, as the fountain isn’t, of itself, magical, it continues to run unless it’s blocked (or the custodian forgets to pedal). Tours run also, but the fountain is low on the government’s priority list even now, so it’s a far cry from what it was, a confection of marble and brass, falls and streams, fine tile and semiprecious stones. Of particular note was the foaming barrel of Vard, which always bubbled and spat, and the figure of Oda skulking with his back turned to the rest, since the moon god isn’t often included in depictions of the pantheon.

 

That Night

There were fairies, before that night.

They zipped over every pond in the summertime, like sparkling, rainbow stars, and left glittery dust on everything they touched. Unicorns stood sentinel in the glens, waiting unwearied for their true, untouched loves. The land’s brass-bold knights went questing, and found lovely maidens to rescue and monsters aplenty for the slaying: trolls and giants, manticores and griffins, cockatrices, and the sly, whispering ghosts of drowned girls. A dryad tended every oak, and dragons guarded the secret places in the earth. Of adventure there was no lack, if one only looked for it.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, it’s probably clear that the monsters weren’t the half of it. They were just one of the more obvious signs magic had gone out of Rothganar. The applications of magic in Rothganar went well beyond the typical combat/adventuring spellcasters such as the ones discussed in my series of posts about them. Magic was an important part of everyday life, especially in the cities, which sanitation and industry made simpler and, as a matter of fact, possible.

In smaller towns, there was often at least a circuit healer serving, and magical vaccinations were common, as well as treatment for injuries and disease. Refrigeration was available in richer homes even far out into the countryside, and nearly every dwelling was magically heated. As a matter of fact, Rothganar was generally modernized wherever the traveler went, bearing all the hallmarks of an industrial society with clean water, clean air, and indoor plumbing available for most residents.

All of that ended in a single night. Vandis’s generation, and the one before it, have borne most of the brunt of reconstructing some sort of life from the ashes of the world. I’ve been calling the magic time Before and the time afterward — well, After. Capitalized, like that. Now you know (if you didn’t before now) what I mean by it. A pat distinction for what must’ve seemed like the end of the world at the time, but there you are.