A Hymn to Vard

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


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)!

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.

Enchanted Items and Substances

There are two broad classes of enchanted items in Rothganar: manufactured and handcrafted. The classes further break down into items themselves, such as enchanted pillows and the ubiquitous basins and chamber pots, and substances like Zeinger’s Best Cordial or Johnston’s Boom-Boom.

Manufactured items and substances tend toward the practical. Most manufacturing equipment is itself magical, and often driven by sorcerers; foundries, print shops, mills for paper, flour, or cloth, even distilleries can be operated magically, and sometimes by a single caster, though most sorcerers with that level of power would choose to pursue their own designs. Legal boundaries protect weaponry in general, but most of them apply only to the manufacturing sector and not to what a single caster can make; that is, factories aren’t churning out magic swords by the bushel because it’s illegal to do so. However, it’s common for apprentice casters who wish to specialize in making to have their first item be a magic sword, so there are quite a number of them, which work to varying degrees.

The most common handmade substance is a potion, particularly one that will heal disease or injury. An accomplished brewster is never in want of custom, and need not be a trained caster, due to the common occurrence of magical ingredients. Often, medicines simply cannot be manufactured; medical care requires a personal touch. The one exception is all-heal, a salve meant to cure minor scrapes, cuts, and burns, though the recipe has been used so many times it seems to be acquiring a power of its own.

Snippet Sunday #16

A little of (yet another) short this week. I’m calling this one “Crossbow Wedding,” and it’s about Dingus’s parents.


The first one Daddy hadn’t chased off, and he was lying to her. Lying! Sweet Rose had no patience for liars, and never mind Daddy had taught her that, Mama too: not to get mixed up with no low-down liar. “You can be sure they’re more trouble than they’re worth,” Daddy would say, and go off on a story about Silent Owl, dead now, who Rhiada remembered as an okay guy basically, even if she didn’t understand all what went on between him and Daddy.

Mama usually rolled her eyes and patted Daddy’s shoulder, and later in the kitchen she’d tell Sweet Rose what she thought: “Baby, half what he says is a lie and don’t let him tell you different.”

“Which half?” Sweet Rose would say back, like always, but she never really got an answer, and it had got to be a joke between them.

Now here was this big boy—in a man’s body, but a boy—lying to her and yelling “Wait, wait!” and Sweet Rose had had enough. She couldn’t get away from him, though, not with his legs so long and hers so short.

“Wait,” he said again, walking easy beside her. He didn’t try touching her. Just as well for him. Mama and Daddy had taught her a trick or two. She didn’t use them, didn’t have to, but she knew how to make him regret it. “Look, I know how you feel. My dad is Marcus Xavier.”

She stopped, blinking. “You mean that Marcus Xavier? Like those Xaviers?”


“That don’t change it. You lied,” she said, shook her head, and walked on.

“I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, okay?”

“How am I supposed to believe one word you say?”

“You can’t, I don’t guess. All you can do is give me a chance.” He whipped in front of her then, and did she ever think about wrecking his hopeful smile! But she didn’t. It was a nice enough smile she didn’t want to wreck it, liar or no. He had a big old beard no tulon could ever grow, and it split around his white teeth that shone in the starlight.