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. ❤

 

Snippet Sunday #19

I’m so close to finishing a beta draft of The Witch under Mountain. So close (if my own head would stop getting in the way). Here is a bit of it.

In a lot of ways this is Fox’s book. Hopefully, you’ll see why when you read it.

~*~

He turned his eyes across the cavern, where trolls stoked a great hearth-fire. One of them, clad in a burnt, greasy-looking apron, sharpened a series of wicked knives. Panic tightened its iron bands around Fox’s chest. He leapt to his feet and clutched at the side of the pen; he’d chosen the closest to Eagle last night, and had to listen to Eagle sob, but it was worth it. “Vo!” he called, clinging to the bars.

Eagle’s head went up, and he unfolded so quickly Fox had trouble tracking the motion. In half a blink he was at the bars too, with a couple of fairies trailing him; he didn’t say a word, only stood there looking at Fox as if from the bottom of the sea, faraway and longing.

Fox took him in. Lacy white sleeves spilled from an outsize velvet doublet. Silk stockings sagged into puddles around his ankles, above the tops of huge buckled shoes. His thighs were too slender for the pantaloons, and instead of puffing up as they ought to, they hung around his knees. The whole effect was dreadfully unbecoming—outright laughable, if it weren’t for the situation—as if the thinnest little chick were given clothes meant for a fat capon.

He ordinarily looked far different: unobtrusive, unassuming. His usual clothes were meant not to catch on anything, but not to foul his movements either, tough enough to hold up and fit well enough to accommodate intense activity. Under Fox’s regard he tried anxiously to smooth what he wore, but he couldn’t make it look well, or himself appear to advantage.

How little it mattered! Fox’s mouth curved in an involuntary smile. Most people wouldn’t have tried to apply an adjective like “sweet” to Eagle Eye, but with Fox he was sweet as the strawberry preserves on a breakfast buffet. He tried valiantly to smile back, but it didn’t quite come off.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Today I’m talking about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. A lot of people really like, even love, this book.

I wasn’t one of them. To tell you the truth, I didn’t like it at all, and I’ll do my best to say why here without spoiling the story too much.

The narrative style bothered me, not because of the letters-to-a-stranger thing, which was kind of a neat device. Maybe it was just too “literary” for my personal taste (or maybe I’m a dumbass talking out the low end — let’s not discount the possibility!). It felt navel-gazing in the most unpleasant way. Later on in the book there are other characters who call the narrator “gifted” and I just didn’t see it; he didn’t read that way to me at all.

That wasn’t what really bothered me about it though. I could be wrong about this, since I don’t have the particular problems he had, but I just did not buy the mental illness. It was pretty clear from the get-go that the author wanted something to be going on with the character, but what it ended up being, and the representation, just didn’t feel authentic to me. I’m open to being told I’m wrong, as always, but you still couldn’t make me like the book.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments.

Tour Guide Tuesday: Commoduce Island

This unassuming island in Semoulian Bay hosts the largest, most notorious prison in Rothganar, from which visitors are always turned away and most prisoners never return. Today I’ll take you there, if you’d like to go. Lucky you — you’ll get to come back.

On the south side of the island, as far from the city as possible, is a great firepit kept constantly burning, to consume the bodies of the dead. Some surviving prisoners make soap from the fat and ash, and this is sold on the mainland as a curative, as well as (in different packaging) a tchotchke for the morbid tourist. If the wind is wrong, the choking smoke from the prison’s permanent pyre floats over the city.

The prison itself is a square building with a central courtyard in which executions take place, though the executions often prove unnecessary. Square windows in the thick walls, too high to exit from safely, enable prisoners to see the gallows and the headsman’s block, though some choose to fling themselves out of one. The prison contains seven floors and maintains a guard station for each. Most guards have no other home, and are often disgraced watchmen. Tents or blankets hanging from the low ceilings provide the only privacy.

If a family’s sole support is imprisoned, often they all simply move to Commoduce Island. Forgotten children make up a large portion of the population.

Survivors of the prison include Lucky Max Bradley, Wynn, and Ripper Jones.

Magic and Sex

Sex and magic in Rothganar are inextricably linked. The pleasure a caster feels when they perform a working is often likened to sexual pleasure, and many come to prefer it.

There are very few active practitioners of sex magic. It’s not something taught to children, as one might imagine, and great care is required in the practice. Otherwise, something can break, usually the aura of the participant(s) being drawn from, but in extreme cases, both.

Sex magic functions by allowing one to draw power through another’s aura, adding temporary strength to their own castings. Consensual contact is the most useful for this sort of practice, but some unscrupulous casters have been known to force themselves on others for the purpose of gaining magical power.

Witches are particularly valuable for this practice, because they can be drawn from directly, and without interference their auras replenish with power quickly and easily. The limits of a caster’s aura when drawing from the planet don’t affect them when drawing from a witch; instead, the aura of the witch herself is the only limit. In the case of Mongo the Great, for example, Mongo and his illusions on their own weren’t particularly great. He’d simply found a witch and was using her to feed his aura.