Monday, September 30, 2013

The Oracle's Corpse--The Order--Installment 18

A strange scent slowly wafted through Nocri. Mangler didn’t like it, but neither could he place it. It was sour and bitter, like blood, but Mangler knew very well that it was not the smell of blood.
No matter where he went in Nocri, the green moon was visible through the broken ceiling. If not for tiny details every so often—a change in a window placement, the lack of a vine, a missing tile—he would have said he had yet to leave the first hallway, no matter how many stairs he went up and down. Every staircase was odd. They all had the peculiar spiderweb feeling to them as he moved along the steps, a stretching in the very air trying to hold him back. And every time the air snapped, he was somewhere new, yet nearly identical to the first hall he’d entered.
Mangler kept walking, cautious and tense. He encountered no one and nothing. How was this the undertakers’ secret city? What was worth keeping secret here? Not even Masuta would covet the knowledge of this place. It held none. And yet, he sensed the secrets, weaving through the shadows, following him.
Mangler felt a ripple run down his spine, abruptly turned and realized that it was not secrets following him; it was a woman. She was completely obscured by a tattered grey veil that draped over her thin, uneven form. Her head was bowed, her arms limply outstretched.
“Unwelcome,” she rasped in a tired, dried out voice, like a young one turned old too quickly.
“Who are you?” Mangler asked.
“You came for answers to questions already answered,” she said. “And you weren’t answered.”
“I haven’t asked any questions.”
“You did. You will.” She raised her head and an indistinct breeze moved the veil around a tatter, revealing nothing on the other side of it except bones.
“Are you the Oracle’s Corpse?” he asked.
“Human before, human no more, the side you fight for, what is their war?”
Mangler wasn't particularly sure who she was talking about, him or herself. “The war yes. What was the war about? The war that restarted history.”
“Death and death and death again. Death against death.” Softly rattling, she pointed a hand toward him. “Why do you ask questions to answers you have, son of Wayde?”
Mangler stepped back quickly, eyes wide. For a second, he was afraid.
The woman brushed her arm across the ashen vines and they crumpled before reforming into a round disk hovering over the woman’s veil covered hand. Even comprised of ash, Mangler recognized it—he’d stared at it often enough—it was the pendant Murderous had recovered from the old man. Now though as he stared at the ethereal image of it, the nonsense words around it began to grow.
Zofina is a Nicomus, a Dottir of Thanos, the Knowledge of the Lock, the Bearer of the Secret—
“What are you doing here? Who are you?” a new voice shouted.
Mangler looked up, the ash pendant disintegrating to the floor, the Oracle’s Corpse sliding against the wall and then vanishing with a chuckle. Behind where she had stood was the undertaker Mangler had followed in, the woman with white hair. Instinctively, Mangler loosened the knife hidden up his sleeve, letting it drop into his palm, then retracted it, spun on one heel and ran.
  The woman watched him go, then bit the tip of both thumbs hard, breaking the skin. Blood welled up and she smeared the blood onto her palms, a different symbol on each hand. Then she pressed her palms together, eyes fixed on Mangler’s retreating form.
“Rest this dead,” she whispered into her hands.
Blood dripped down between palms, dropping to the floor and then slithering after Mangler like living things, black in the green moonlight. The white haired woman slowly lowered her hands.
“Nothing lives forever, Immortal.”

what do you mean it's Monday?

I won't lie, I forgot it was Monday. I mean, I went through my day as if it were Monday, but I didn't realize that it was Monday. No, this does not mean no Order. It just means that I didn't finangle with it today during my breaks so it's not ready yet. It'll be here this evening. Count on it.
On that note, is anyone else having issues with it being Monday? Like, does it feel like Monday to the rest of  you? I was very settled in the day until I realized I'd forgotten like the most important part of Monday (for me. Got to keep up with those self-set goals, don't I?). And then was more Monday. Or maybe less. I'm babbling now. I think that's a good time to sign off.  -E. Farris

[Edit: I also added fish! Click on them to feed them!]

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Listen to the Wind

 [My apologies if I've posted this before. I'm pretty darn sure I haven't, but I don't really feel like checking to make sure.]

            He had funny ears.
They were thin as paper and lined with purplish veins, sticking out from either side of his head like an elephant’s. And they were just a bit too big for the rest of him. Proportions had not been kind to his ears.
Seline was one of the very few people in the town who didn’t make fun of the silent boy for his ears, in his hearing or out of it. Most likely this was due to her parents, both severely scarred from past experiences that had left her mother disfigured and her father nearly blind that they spoke of in vague flutters. It made Seline much more sympathetic toward people who looked different. And the boy’s silence fascinated her. To the memory of everyone, he’d never spoken a word, not even as a very young child. But he did mouth words. He kept to himself, always standing as far away from others as the space would allow and would stare at a fixed point, eyes unfocused and lips barely moving.
Seline had been watching him for years, and had become rather gifted at reading his lips. And it was clear that he was having a conversation, but she couldn’t tell with what or who. No one was ever nearby and usually nothing was nearby as well. She never thought of asking him, because she knew he wouldn’t answer, but it bothered her not knowing.
            It wasn’t until her twelfth winter that she even knocked on the door of his world. Her younger brother had run off to play in the snow and her parents had sent her after him. So, scarf twisted around her neck and coat hugging her uncomfortably, she tromped out into the snow. She followed her brother up the hill, then saw the boy with the unfortunate ears and forgot about her brother.
            He was standing quite still at the very peak, bare hands at his sides, faintly bluish and pale, his ears sticking out like frozen pages of a book from beneath his battered corduroy cap. The wind was blowing flurries of snowflakes in his face, but he didn’t move, didn’t seem to notice. Seline stared at him for a long moment, then without thinking about it much, cautiously began to tread toward the boy.
            He tilted his head slightly and Seline halted, foot hovering over the snow, not sure why she was afraid he’d hear her with his great ears, or why she didn’t want him to. But after several more long reaching moments of stillness, she plunged her boot into the white crust and continued her slow stalk.
            Twice more he tilted his head, once to the left and once upward, and both times Seline stopped in her tracks and waited before creeping forward again, until finally she was practically beside him.
            Holding her breath.
            The wind tossed snow in her face, gnawing at her nose as she squinted against the cold force, eyes watering. Then it died down.
            He tilted his head, lips twitching with silent words.
            “What are you listening to?” Seline suddenly asked.
            The boy didn’t move, didn’t show any sign of having heard her at all, just kept staring at nothing, breathing words. And then.
            “The wind.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Undertaking Symbols

Some of the symbols of undertaking as used by the undertakers in The Order. Enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

observations and Friday suggestions

I hope you people enjoy the constant font changes as much as I do. It's not planned, I swear. Might plan it now, or better yet, implement fonts previously unused. My apologies to the OCD of my readers.
Anyway, the purpose of this is that I realized, A.) I have been extremely absent and B.) It's Friday still and I owe you lot a book suggestion. Today's suggestion is brought to you by ROC Publishers. The book is Storm Front, the first in the Dresden Files by the incomparable Jim Butcher. An adult fantasy novel that features an immensely witty and amusing narrator, one Harry Dresden, also the only practicing wizard to be found in Chicago's YellowPages. He solves crimes. And stuff. Mostly stuff. Give it a go!

What They Say, What I Know

[Yay! More iffy poetry by me! Also, look! I'm not dead. Just very absent. -E. Farris]

What They Say, What I Know

He is asleep
And they say he won’t wake
They tell me I should let him go.
It’s what he would want, that’s what they say.
He wouldn’t want you to live like this
He wouldn’t want to live like this,
This Living Death,
Let him go, it’s what they say.

Liars, imposters, and idiots.
What do they know?
He is not theirs and they don’t know him.
They never knew his shyly blooming smile.
They never held smooth, wide hands like
the smooth, wide band upon his third, left finger, not counting the
thumb, slightly crooked, a genetic hitchhiker.
They didn’t know his laughter like distant thunder
rumbling and deep, cherished
Like rain that gives life.
They didn’t know his eyes like pools with moons bouncing on
the wind ruffled water.
They never felt his warm, enveloping arms.
They pretend that they know him, knew him, know him.
They pretend

Would he want to be let go?
Of course not, of course no.
They do not know
He is not theirs.
Don’t give up on me, it’s what he’d say.
I know he would.
I hear him

He is dead
It’s what they speak
But no.
He is asleep.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fox's Cunning--The Order--Installment 17

[Bet ya thought it wouldn't happen, but voila! Installment 17! Only one day late! -E. Farris]

            Zofi stared at the wooden skull mask in its case, her eyes following the whorls of intricate carvings, then she slammed the case closed, locking it. The case went into the bag of all her father’s undertaking things, and then she donned the bag and straightened without looking around the tent. Nothing for her was in here anymore.
            She turned toward the entrance as the flap swished open. A young man in the gray Restri uniform held the tent door open, hesitantly looking at her. He had black hair and light eyes, but she couldn’t decipher the color. Immediately she scanned over him, then jerked her eyes to his face.
            “Zofi?” he said and she recognized his voice as Alfons’. He had kept his distance while her father had been buried and arrangements for an undertaker made. This was the first time she had actually seen him. Her eyes dropped again, looking him over swiftly, searchingly.
            “Yes?” she asked.
            “Are you leaving today?”
            “Now,” she answered.
            “We will suffer with you gone,” he said. “This new undertaker does not know his craft.”
            “Don’t judge what you don’t know,” she muttered, shouldering past him.
            Alfons wobbled unsteadily and spun after her. “Wait, Zofi!”
            “I’m coming back,” she said. “I have a duty after all. I have to be Initiated before I can do anything though.”
            “I know,” he said hurriedly. “I want to come with you.”
            Zofi glanced at him, an eyebrow raised. “You can’t. Outsiders aren’t permitted in Nocri.”
            “I know that. I’m not…I know. I don’t want to enter Nocri itself, just the outside.”
            Zofi stopped and faced him, her arms crossed over her chest. “Why?” she demanded.
“It’s important to me,” Alfons said.
She did not relent. “Why?”
Alfons rubbed at his hair and grimaced. “I…just need to.”
“You can’t come if you don’t tell me why,” Zofi said.
Alfons exhaled through his teeth and wiped his hand on his thigh. “I have this…thing that I have to take there, but I’ve never been, so I don’t know how to get there, so I haven’t gone yet. But it has to be taken there soon. It’s...imperative to the war.”
“What thing?”
He stared at her and suddenly Zofi felt as if she were being the one studied, sized up, instead of her studying him. “Something of the Immortals,” Alfons answered then.
She blinked. “What?”
“I have something of theirs. Something that needs to be put in a safe place, like Nocri, a place they could never go.”
“You believe in the Immortals,” Zofi said. “You really think they exist.”
“Well, yes. I mean, I, yes. I’ve met one.”
Zofi stepped back. “You’re not dead.”
Alfons shrugged with a grim smile. “Mostly.”
She could only stare. Sure, she’d heard rumors of the effects of the Immortals on the war. The body that wasn’t her grandfather’s had apparently been killed by one. The men had claimed that at least two had been on the front lines not long before she and her father had come; it was the reason they had been called. The Immortal had killed the previous undertaker, but then inexplicably, he had withdrawn and not been seen since. None of them had been. It was as if the Immortals had vanished…or been recalled on a more important assignment.
And yet, here in front of her was a man who claimed to have met an Immortal, not just that, but claimed to have met an Immortal and lived. It shouldn’t be possible. The Immortals did not show mercy and they never missed.
“The Fox,” Alfons said.
“The Fo—my grandfather?” Zofi breathed.
Alfons nodded. “I was one of the ones who went with him on that particular mission. He drew the Immortal away. The Mort thought I was dead and gave chase, allowing me to escape. I heard that…I’m sorry about your grandfather. He saved my life.”
Zofi shook her head absently. “He’s not de…what do you have? What of the Immortals’ do you have?”
“The Key? That’s what the Fox called it.”
“You’re coming.”

To See Death--The Order--Installment 14

[It's a bit longer because I didn't want to make it fit to make up for last week. Ha ha. Blame the wight. Anyway, The Order is back!

Zofi stared at the woman with red hair and blue eyes, every bit as beautiful as Zofi had always imagined. She had never had so much as a description of her mother, but the woman before her could be no other. Zofi could see her own face echoed in the features of the woman. A smile filled Zofi’s face, pushing out the odd feeling of cold. Why would she be cold? Her mother was here. She didn’t even know her mother’s name, but she was here. She’d returned, for Zofi. Zofi almost laughed. Her dead mother loved her more than her living father. Zofi held out her arms to her mother, but couldn’t. She couldn’t move. She could only stare and wait as her mother came closer.
The word struck the back of her mind. She didn’t want this closer. Zofi tried to shake that thought loose. Of course she wanted her mother closer. Except this wasn’t her. Zofi felt a hot flush rushing down her spine, dissolving the frigid grip on her spine. This wasn’t her mother. She had never seen her mother. This was a wight.
Zofi gasped and recoiled as the wight reached a hand toward her. It drew back at her sudden movement and she swiftly scrambled around it, weakness weighing down her limbs. How long had she sat there letting it consume her life? How long had it been draining her? Her fingers closed on wood and she ripped open the box, placing her father’s skull mask on her face. She had never worn his mask before—he’d never allowed it—and had never understood all the runes he drew on his face and the mask before wearing it. She had none of those symbols, just the raw power of an undertaker’s mask.
Color drained away from the world and then returned in a blinding flash. It was hard to breathe. Everything was brighter, more vivid, even the mist was a color she had no name for, but at the heart of every object was a colorless piece, not grey or black, but the absence of color, slowly spreading tendrils throughout each thing. It hurt to stand. And then every colorless bit began to drift toward her. Death, she realized. She was seeing death. And it was coming toward her. I
She stumbled backward, then snapped her head toward the wight and screamed. To look on a wight with the eyes of death was a thing had driven many of her predecessors to madness, or more. She saw it, as it was, as it had been, as it was to her. She saw its real self and she saw how the man it had been died, how he felt, what it felt now: hunger. So much unrelenting hunger.
Yet she wasn’t afraid. She had death flowing into her from all around, flooding through the mask and into her, filling her with power, the power to control death, to manipulate it. She devoured the power, everything becoming clearer and brighter and sharper the more she consumed. She could feel the death pouring through her body, through every cell, pumping out impurities and imperfection.
Zofi dropped to her knees and dragged her finger along the ground, sketching symbols in a circle around her in pure essence of death. She drew out warding runes, the Symbol of a Lesser Hate, the Sign of a Grieving Mother, Death’s Monogram, and countless others as the wight glided toward her. She kept her eyes on the ground, unwilling to look at it again.
The wight touched the edge of her circle, and fell back as the symbol flared up with colorless flames. The fire burned through the whole circle then turned to a thick fog hovering in the shape of the symbols. Zofi grinned wildly, panting heavily, unaware of the blood trickling from her nose. She was winning. She was going to destroy a wight on her own without any training. She felt a new pulse of death power fill her and she shuddered in delight. Then she looked at the wight, gladly.
It shifted back and forth, its four forms braiding in and out of one another, held back by the circle of runes. Then it stopped, went utterly still as it had yet to be since she had first seen it. Its upper body moved, almost like an inhalation and the symbols of fog twitched then slipped toward it, the wight sucking in all of her protection, the crumbling remains of the corpse nearby, the life in all the plants around them, and more.
Zofi gasped, half her body heat leaving her body with the runes and she collapsed to the ground, blue-skinned, covered in frost, too cold to even shake. She could only wait for the wight to inhale again and kill her.
Then a black-clothed figure stepped between her and it. Her limited, sideways view confused her. The person looked like her father, but it couldn’t be. The undertaker held out hands blackened with symbols toward the wight and shouted deep, throaty, roaring words.
Light blasted through the woods, washing everything in white and then as it dimmed, Zofi’s eyes closed.