(Il)Logical Progression

Random Musings by the Truly Random

What the Guinea Pig Dragged in

My Lord,

There has been excellent progress in the last month regarding our project.  The vessel is coming together exquisitely, and is responding to the tests well.  The shell has proven strong, withstanding the full brunt of a cannon with little more than a scratch.  Traditional magic has proven somewhat trickier to defend against, but marked improvement has been seen in this area as well, with the shell absorbing a significant portion of the incoming magical energies.  There are still issues with the dissipation of the remaining energies, as the shell still buckles under impact from pseudomagefire, though this may not delay progress as much as it might seem at first, given the dearth of pseudomagi we will face.  I believe when the time comes, Sire, that there will be little to worry about with the shell of the vessel.

The soul engine is also progressing smoothly.  It appears to be converting souls at a fairly efficient rate, though we have not yet exercised the engine, as the frame and shell are still being created.  The engine’s power seems sufficient for the theoretical frame, and I believe that we shall be able to manage to keep the vessel stoked with souls once events begin to move.  This engine will be unlike any engine created before it, and will suit my Lord’s purposes perfectly.

The issue still remains with the vessel’s psyche units – we are still seeing madness manifesting in the test vessels using the master-slave units.  Over time, it appears that the slave souls degrade, and within a matter of days, the master-slave unit functions with no better performance than a standard psyche unit.  Further testing will be necessary, especially given the fact that this significant a decay is present in a one-master-one-slave unit, and that my Lord’s vessel will require a psyche unit far more complex.

Testing of the remaining factor should begin soon, your Majesty.  A suitable candidate has been selected, and preparations are being made for his acquisition.  There will be a cost to this acquisition, but I believe that as I have already discussed with my Lord, the sacrifices will be worth it, in the end.  The test vessel has already been readied, and the blending of the test vessel’s appearance with that of my Lord’s regular forces appears flawless.  It appears to be a typical vessel when examined physically, magically, and even pseudomagically.

Despite the successes we have seen so far, I must beg of my Lord a supply of more souls, as those that we have on hand are starting to show signs of natural decay, and will soon be insufficient for proper testing.  As pseudomagical resistance is a prime factor of this vessel, we need to supply both the vessel itself and the pseudomagi performing the tests.  I believe that the upcoming campaign that my Lord has spoken of will be a boon to this project, and that no quarter should be given to the enemy in order to increase the harvest.

I hope this report finds you well, Majesty.

Your humble servant,

S.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing | | 1 Comment

Desperately Seeking… Something

Time seems to fly sometimes, and not just when you’re having fun.  It’s been about a week since I wrote anything here, and I think it’s because I’m not sure what I feel like writing about.  The Velvet Cafe has seen some of my writing – Jessica, per her usual talent, has managed to put up a few topics that got me to respond.  Theatre on film, Miyazaki, and scriptwriters forgetting about little things – she got some words out of me in her comments section – quite a few, in fact.  But I still can’t seem to figure out what to put up here, sometimes.

It’s really easier to respond to someone else’s topic, rather than come up with your own.  It’s part of the reason I started this blog – I wanted to say what I felt needed to be said, but at the same time, I didn’t want to usurp peoples’ articles from them on their pages.  (Fortunately, Jessica’s very forgiving about my ‘walls-of-text’ comments on her site, even when they’re longer than what she wrote herself.)  But, not reading as many blogs as I used to on a regular basis, I feel like I don’t have as much to talk about these days.

So, in response, I went to creative writing, but even that’s kinda blocked up right now.  The two stories here were experiments – one to see what I could come up with as a short story at all (“The First Soul”), and one to see what I could do with a varied perspective (“Courier Duty”).  Both were successful, I believe, though, I’m now not sure where to take the stories – I’m trying to develop the world, without actually getting into the main story that I have been imagining for the years that this world’s existed in my mind.

I’m a bit blocked, I think.  I’m seeking out… something.  A muse.

Something I’m watching?  Already wrote about Glee and haven’t watched much else.  Though I can’t seem to get “Defying Gravity” out of my head.

Something I’m reading?  Still trying to finish Eldest and The Way of Kings but it’s a tad slow at the moment.

Something I’m doing?  I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars:  The Old Republic and having fun, but I don’t have too much to write about that yet that I didn’t already mention before.  I am 43 on my Mercenary (Taoren) now, though, and healing instead of DPS.  Fighting with the urge to move to a hybrid spec, to DPS better while still maintaining healing, but I don’t think I’m good enough at healing yet to be ready to add DPS back into the mix.

Sports?  My Sacramento Kings are doing terrible this year, and it seems like the majority of their problems stem from lackluster 3rd quarters.  I don’t put any stock into the score (unless they’re way down already) before the end of the 3rd, since they seem to blow leads regularly at that time.

I guess it’s just a little “blah” right now – I’m hoping that just putting this up will get something going soon.

Any ideas?

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

 

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing, General Musings | | Leave a comment

Courier Duty

Go in to the tunnel, and keep heading straight, until you reach the first corner, and then go right.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.  Straight and right at the first corner.  Can you let a guy concentrate a bit?”, he grumbled in response to the voice in his head.  Her constant directions were beginning to grate on him.

He entered the short stone tunnel, and began to move forward, his head twisting left and right in order to keep alert for any other presences.  He sidled to the right, pressing against the wall slightly to avoid the dusty pile of bones, fur and rotting flesh that rested against the opposing wall, the stench overwhelming his senses.  Whatever it had been, it was fairly large, very dead, and only a couple weeks old – well, a couple weeks in its current state, anyhow.  He wrinkled his nose and kept moving forward, to put the bad air to his back.  “You’re going to owe me for this, you know.  This place is disgusting,” he muttered to that voice.

Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded.  You always are, right?

“Yeah, I’m sure.  A few scraps until the next job.  You can be such a slavemaster, sometimes, mistress, ” he answered back, a bit harder intonation at the last word, as if he was choking on it a bit, and spitting it out.

Just do your job.

He kept on moving down the tunnel, the path barely lit from the entrance behind him, as he reached the first turn.  He peered around the corner, through more dust and some cobwebs, and squinted, trying to see down to the end.  “It looks empty,” he said simply, before starting down the new path.  A rumbling came from above him, and his eyes peered up to the ceiling.  “I hope this thing’s stronger than it looks.  I don’t really want to die in here, as much as it would frustrate you.”  He smirked, and somehow she saw that, despite being over a league away.

And you like it when I’m frustrated, don’t you?  

“Very much so.”  He was practically grinning to himself now.

Suddenly he felt a surge race through his brain, and he gasped, jumping up, as if his backside were on fire.  “Ok!  Ok!  I get it!”

Yeah, that’s what you always say.  Now get going.

“Sheesh.”  He advanced further down the tunnel, pushing large tufts of cobweb out of his way.  He grumbled even more, when the tunnel’s ceiling dropped down further, forcing him to belly crawl on the floor to fit.  He grasped the hem of his cloak about him, and shimmied into the small opening, wincing a bit, as the floor became wet with some foul liquid, helping him slip through easier, but soaking into the fabric of his cloak.  “Ugh.  This is going to stink for a week!”

And then he heard it – softly at first, growing steadily louder.  Chittering, and clawed footsteps.  Getting closer, if his ears weren’t deceiving him.  And not just one set of footsteps.

Frantically, he doubled his efforts to get through the narrow passage he was now wedged into, wriggling in the tightness, like a worm trying to move through packed earth.  He could see the end of the tunnel approaching, still a way off, but lit, and bright compared to his surroundings.  Behind him, the clawing and noises grew louder, and the chittering had changed suddenly to hissing, and he could smell foul air entering his part of the tunnel, making him cough.

Finally, the tunnel opened up, and he became free of his confines, once again able to run.  He glanced back over his shoulder, and caught the glimpse of a pair of shiny red eyes, seeming to glow in the dim light of tunnel, and sharp white fangs beneath them, snapping out as the creature tried to lunge forward at that same small passage, its head barely able to squeeze into that narrow bottleneck.  He smirked, then sniffed once more, making him wrinkle his nose in disgust, before turning away and dashing down the remainder of the passage, his cloak streaming out behind him.  Emerging from the tunnel, he found himself in a massive chamber, with a ceiling barely visible from his low vantage.  Sunlight diffused into the chamber through a hole in that ceiling, which further complicated his estimation of the chamber’s dimensions.  A large stone platform took up the center of the chamber, directly beneath the sunlit aperture. Looking around quickly to assess his new surroundings, he said, “I’ve arrived in the chamber, mistress.”

Yes, I see that.  Now, get up there, and get me what I asked for.

He looked around, again, taking stock, before deciding on a promising looking wooden scaffold, propped against one wall of the chamber, as his means for ascending.  He ran over to the one of the four posts forming the base the scaffold, and pushed himself against it, wedging himself between it and the wall.  Trying to put his back into it, he pushed on the wall with both feet.  “A little help?”, he grunted, straining, the wooden structure moving very slowly toward the center dais, a loud grinding sound echoing through the chamber, as the posts scraped along the stone floor.

Oh, you try to frustrate me, but I don’t get to return the favor?

He continued to struggle to move the scaffold away from the wall.  “Do you want this done or not?”, he snapped back, his voice straining with exertion.

Very well.  Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.

Another surge filled his brain, and he stared at the base of the scaffold.  Suddenly, the scaffold shot forward, and slammed into the side of the dais noisily, shaking the floor beneath his feet.  He winced, murmuring, “Subtle.  Very subtle,” before approaching the base of the scaffolding and beginning to climb up.   It was not a short climb, but the structure made it easier to scale, and before he knew it, he was on the plateau of stone that filled the middle of the large space.

He looked around atop the dais, and saw a variety of objects littering its surface.  Great urns, with mysterious contents he could not see were scattered about the expanse, along with large feathers, from what could only be large, great birds.  Piled high on one side of the dias, was a repository of large scrolls, laid out side-by-side.  He rushed over to them, and scanned over the large seals which kept them bound tightly shut.  Spotting one in blue of a great talon, he grasped it, and slid it over the small pack on his back.  “I’ve got it.  Now, to get the…”  A loud crash behind him interrupted his report, and his eyes went wide.  One of the large, red-eyed, furry creatures from the tunnel was snarling at him, approaching, stalking him, its large tail snaking behind it menacingly.  “Oh, great…”

It leaped at him, and he dove to the side, falling flat on his stomach, the large scroll on his back making it hard to twist and turn.  He scrambled on all fours, to the center of the table, and tried to regain his footing.  From the scaffold, he saw yet another large, red-eyed, sharp-toothed head hissing at him.  The second creature climbed onto the table, and the two creatures circled him, eying him, looking for the right moment to pounce.  The first shot towards him, and he wrenched himself out of the way, causing the creature to fly past, barreling into one of the urns, toppling it, spilling its murky black contents onto the stone in a pool.  Distracted, he didn’t see the other, which pounced on his back, dropping him prone again, and the creatures teeth snapped at his head.  He squirmed, and the fangs tore the hood of his cloak, shredding it, the cloak’s tie at his neck pulling his body backwards.  He gasped for air, as he scrambled frantically for traction on the stone surface.

Thunder rang through the room, and a gust from one side of the chamber knocked the creature off him.  Not waiting to see what had happened, he scrambled towards the edge of the dais and jumped, catching onto a craggy stone surface – the wall of the chamber.  He scrambled up the surface, pulling himself up onto the ledge above and cursed, finding himself with his back against against a large wooden wall, barring the entrance to a large portal.  He could see bits of sunlight through the imperfections in the wood, but a quick test with his shoulder proved the wall to be immovable.

The creatures, meanwhile, had started racing around the dais, driven to a frenzy by the thunder.  A second urn toppled from the dais to the chamber floor, shattering on the stone, more viscous black fluid pooling beneath the shards of clay.  A number of the scrolls had been strewn over the dais and the floor below, crushed and mangled in the chaos.  A giant presence revealed itself from across the chamber, with a loud, booming voice which filled the room.  In his fear, the voice was unintelligible, and he reached desperately into his small pack, drawing out a large silver hoop.   He inhaled sharply, and drew the hoop up about his waist.

The presence followed the creatures, who appeared to be racing back towards the tunnel from which they came, clawing at each other as they both attempted to fit into the tunnel at the same time.  A sudden flash of light –  and the creatures, both in the mouth of the tunnel, ceased to move, black wisps of smoke rising from their corpses.  The presence turned towards him.

He screamed, “Mistress!”, his back pressed against the wooden barrier, eyes clenched shut in fear.  Another sudden surge shot through his mind – he shrieked and the barrier suddenly gave way behind him.  Air buffeted about him, and as he opened his eyes, seeing the blue of the sky before him, he yelped in surprise.   Shards of the broken barrier were falling about him, as he plummeted toward the earth far below.  He grasped the hoop about his waist tightly and yelled, “Alarielle!”

The silver hoop glowed in his grasp, and his falling immediately slowed.  He outstretched his arms and began to glide down, escaping the mysterious presence behind him,  as it cast a large shadow down over him from the ledge he had just fallen from.  He continued to float down, gliding across the large lake that had surrounded the compound that had housed his quarry.  He whooped in triumph, feeling smug as he finally reached the ground just beyond the lake.  He made his way through the dense foliage, away from the lake, and quickly ran to his mistress’ meeting point.

Well done, Mortimer.  The letter you have just retrieved will be well received by the Circle.  You have earned your reward.

Mortimer scampered out of the foliage, looking extremely pleased with himself, and ran to his waiting mistress, climbing into her outstretched hand.  She gently picked up her familiar, relieved him of the scroll, and put him on her shoulder.  “Phew, you stink,” she mentioned to him, as she began walking down the dirt road away from where Mortimer had appeared..

“And whose fault is that?”, he retorted.  “This is going to cost you double.”  He tried to shake out some of the mess from his mottled fur, to no avail.  He sighed in frustration.

She laughed and reached into a pouch, bringing up a large kernel of dried corn, holding it up to the cloaked guinea pig on her shoulder.  “Perhaps, but you’re the one that needs a bath.  And give me back my bracelet.”

Grumbling, he nodded to her, grabbed the kernel, and nibbled on it, shuddering at the prospect of the wet evening to come.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing | , | Leave a comment

The First Soul

Alden Cherudim, initiate pseudomage of the Tenth Circle, smoothed his white robes, trying to stand taller, and stared at the door of the small wooden house before him.  He shivered, the warm summer breeze feeling cold as it wafted through his blond hair, and without thought, he clutched at his robes, wrinkling them again.  He looked from side to side quickly, the sensation of eyes on him chilling him further, though nobody appeared to be anywhere in view.  The road he stood upon looked empty, following the edge of the plot of land the inhabitants of this house – only marginally larger than a shack – tended.  Havershim, this area was called, but this house was miles away from anything resembling a hamlet, much less a town.  The only other feature of this empty road was an even smaller shed, leaning against the side of the house, presumably where this farmer kept what tools he used.  All in all, there was a dreariness to the setting that made Alden even more nervous.  A coughing sound came from inside the house, and Alden looked ahead at the door once more.  Mustering up a bit of courage, and taking a breath, he stepped forward and knocked on the door.

“Who… who is it…?”  a weak voice croaked, behind the thin door.  More coughing.

“My name is Alden.  Alden Cherudim.  The Circle sent me to tend to you.”  Alden touched the door and it creaked, opening enough for him to see an elderly man, disheveled, unshaven, beneath a thin blanket, lying on an old bench.  To the left of the door was a small table, a dark bottle tipped over upon it, a small stain near its mouth on the table the only evidence that it once contained anything other than dust.

“Tend?  Ah, yes…  I’m dying, aren’t I…?”  The man sighed weakly, and let his head rest again on the bench.  He stared up at the ceiling, his breathing labored.  “The Circle only comes out here… for the dying…”

Alden blinked and straightened up, his voice regaining a bit of its normal timbre.  “That’s not true.  Last week, the Cir-”  Coughing interrupted Alden’s retort.

“I’m sure…  that I don’t want to spend my last arguing about the Circle, ” the old man said, regaining his breath.  He smirked, and turned his head to look at Alden, who had now entered the house and was standing next to the bench.  “At least you made it in time.”

Alden smiled and produced a small cup from a pouch on his belt.  Holding it out with his left hand, he held his right, palm down, just above the rim.  A weak blue light came from beneath his fingers, and he pulled his hand back, revealing clean water in the vessel.  He leaned down and placed the cup to the man’s cracked lips and helped him drink.

The man drank, and sighed, coughing once, but releasing the tension in his body.  “Alden, was it?”

“Yes – of the Tenth Circle.”  Alden nodded his head in a slight bow, setting the empty cup on the table.

“Carr, they call me.  Just Carr.”

“Carr,” repeated Alden.  “An honor to meet you.  Is there anything I can do for you to make you comfortable?”

Carr started to shake his head, and then stopped.  “The… the Circle didn’t make it in time for her…  my Mel…  Will I still see her…  you know, After?” he asked, his raspy voice trembling with fear.  “She didn’t have her rites.”

Alden paused for a moment, trying to keep his face neutral, before smiling slightly, and nodding.  “Of course.  Tended or not, all souls are cared for After, for the universe detests waste,” he answered, paraphrasing his master’s teachings.  “She will be awaiting you with open arms.”

Carr relaxed again, and settled back on the bench, gazing up at the roof, as if  the sky was visible through it.  “It hasn’t been that long, you know… since she went to the After.  A year or so ago.”

Alden smiled, and looked down at Carr, nodding, urging him to continue.

“She used to have hair – long hair… the color of a field at harvest…  and a smile that could warm from anywhere in a room.  We grew up together, worked the farm together…  Lived together.  I miss her…” he trailed off, for a brief second before continuing, a bit more energetically.  “You know she had the best bread in this county?  The inn up the road always used to buy her bread…”  He smacked his lips as though he could still taste it.

“And as we both got older… her hair became silver like the moon…  and still shone.”  He sighed wistfully, but then, his face darkened.

“And then, a year ago, she got the water-lung.  First, she was tired.  Then pale.  Then feverish.  Coughing all the time.”  He looked sharply at Alden, “And then… he showed up.  One of the ones like you.  Fancy robes, and all.  Said he was there to ‘tend’ to Mel.”  His stare intensified and Alden shifted on his feet, feeling the heat from that glare.  “I thought he was a savior.  Thought he was there to help her.  I asked him to look at her, to cure her, and he just looked her over, and said ‘It appears that I’m early.'”  Carr was shaking beneath his thin blanket, and he coughed twice, his body wracking in spasm.  “And then…  he left.”

He sighed again, his body settling once more on the bench, his gaze returning to the blank ceiling.  “I never saw him again.”  His voice softened to almost a whisper, “And Mel… my Mel… she passed a week later.  I came here after… to get away.  It hurt too much.”

Alden stood, silently, just staring down at Carr – at the old man who was abandoned by the Circle – and said mechanically, “I am sorry… that the Circle could not fulfill its duty to your wife,” his mind stunned by the story he had just heard.  “May she rest peacefully in the After,” he finished, barely whispering.

Carr shook his head once, and closed his eyes.  “You are not to blame, Alden.  Tonight, you have done the Circle’s part… for Mel… by listening to an old man.  By tending to her memory…”  He smiled and coughed once more, weakly, his breathing going shallow and his voice trailing off.

Alden walked over to the bed, and laid his hand upon Carr’s brow.  A faint, soft green glow came from his palm upon Carr’s forehead, and the old man wheezed once more, and then was still.  Silent.  The glow filled the small room, and he lifted his hand, drawing a small golden orb of light from within the man he had just been listening to.  He turned his palm up, and stared at the orb – Carr’s soul – that sat so small in his hand.  Alden swallowed, entranced by it for a long moment before placing it in a dark cloth bag at his waist.  As the soul dropped into the bag, it briefly illuminated the inside of the bag – empty, except for Carr.

My first soul, thought Alden.  He thought back through what Carr had said about his visitor the year before and wondered what it meant – why hadn’t the Circle helped Mel?  He gazed into the nearly empty bag as if looking for an answer.  Finding none, he took hold of the bag’s strings.

Alden almost thought he heard the words “Thank you” from his bag, before it cinched shut.

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing | , | 2 Comments