Saturday, December 9, 2017

home

in the darkness there is a spark
in the spark there is a hope,
in the hope is a question,
and it's calling me home.

in the darkness is a fire,
in the fire is a rage,
in the rage is regret,
and it's making me alone.

in the darkness is a burning,
in the burning is a yearning,
in the yearning is a question,
and the question is which way?

in the darkness is no direction,
no route and no protection,
no guide and no deflection,
no spark, no heart, all alone,
just rage and hate and fury,
distaste and fear and yearning,
pain and ache and burning,
regret and loss and churning...
and I'm not coming

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Primal (Mature)

Mature Content

come and hold my fear,
let the mats' warm embrace
surround and provide the comfort
that takes so much to face

snuggle-cuddle-catch
and feel weakness-strength
grapple-tousle-hold
and show off your grace

pin you down around me
feel your panting fear
that knows I could do anything
but only wants you near

pin me down-defiance
and show I'm not alone
nuzzle close beside me
at last feel at home

Friday, November 24, 2017

Untitled (24 November 2017)

words from other lines,
lines from other minds,
created from other stress,
stress on other shoulders

easy to write the words,
hard to write the worlds,
easy to build the bridged,
hard to climb the cliffs

Monday, November 20, 2017

Waiting

quiet thoughts in the lonely dark,
stilling fingers, yearning spark,
hoping for language to fill my mind
and take me on a wild ride.


Time Rich, Cash Poor

You don't have what you need. I saw you, walking up the road and searching, hoping someone would see that you've stumbled. It's not fair; life's not fair. You worked so hard, did what you had to do to get out from under certain thumbs, but now... now... when everything should have been paid off and should have paid off, it didn't.

But for me, it did.

Our lives are a struggle, between freedom and wealth. We just can't seem to find the break that gives us both; you and me. I'm in a lucky place where I enjoy the work and get paid well for it, but time is not something I have much of. You're at the other end. You just got free from your obligations, still waiting for them to pay off, but until that payday comes, you have too much time and not enough money.

Who could help but wish for more?

Continue reading...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gwyrdd

from tunnel to cavern to cave,
see the dreams drip back and save
see the darkness be reborn,
see the light, forget the storm,

and turn and walk and free,
back to back and see,
see the clear light shining,
(see the truth is pining,)
see and don't ask why...

yggy hides in pando,
piggy lives as trees,
see the green is shining
(see the green is shining)
see and don't ask why...

I followed the light 'til I couldn't see the sky,
followed the earth 'til I couldn't pass on by,
followed the green 'til I couldn't hear the vine
(and I don't know why (and I don't know why))

in the woods is a church,
in the church is a tree,
in the tree is hope,
and in the hope is me
(and in the hope is me)

in the pews, I see faces,
strange, familiar faces,
warming colden places,
and I know the why
(and I don't know why)

I followed the light 'til I couldn't see the sky,
followed the earth 'til I couldn't pass on by,
followed the green 'til I couldn't hear the vine
(and I don't know why (and I don't know why))

you can take the lives I've led so long,
you can feel the loves I've held so long,
you can read the fear I've felt so long,
and it's trapped inside
(and I don't know why (and I don't know why))

you can hear the voice I've missed so long,
know the words, know the song,
feel reverberations continue on,
and let them fly
(and I don't know why (and I don't know why))

I followed the light 'til I couldn't see the sky,
followed the earth 'til I couldn't pass on by,
followed the green 'til I couldn't hear the vine

I followed the life 'til it led me home,
followed the hope 'til it led me home,
followed her 'til she led me home,
(and I don't know why (and I don't know why))

I can see the church and the wall and stone,
I can see the pain and wrought to the bone,
I can see the woods and the trees,
I can see the hope in me...

 and I don't know why...
(and I don't know why...)

--
Tune inspired by "Hey Asshole" by Watsky [youtube]
Subject inspired by Purgatrio, Yggdrasil, Pando, and Pequeninos
Title translation by Google Translate
Parenthetical words are sung echoes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mot'ite Ea'ity

In the darkness, a hand stroked my hair. Warmth held me close, and I sighed into the silence. Moments of peace was few and far between.

"To'un?"

"Shh. Just, be."

I rolled over, which did more to separate us than to give me a good view. The room was dim. "To'un?"

"Why do you call me that?"

"You are young, it means young."

"What language is that?"

"Mine. Nobody knows it but me."

"What good is a language nobody else knows?"

I burrowed against their hand. "I can say things, and nobody else can listen in. And pet names."

"Like Toun."

"To'un." I caressed the back of the hand. "Even I'm not a native speaker."

"What other things am I?"

"Fet'ift."

"I like the sound of that. What's it mean?"

"Relatively more experienced."

"Mmm. Keep going."

"Ea'ith."

"Say that again, ea--"

"Ea'ith. Here, close."

"Ea ith."

"Close enough."

"I like it. What else can you say?"

"Not much. It's not... ready."

"I still like hearing you say things. But enough for now." They pulled me back, and we drifted into a deeper state of Ea'im Fet'o.

The jealousy of a scratched head

absent minded casualties of former affections,
verisimilations of virtuous regret, or
pulchritudinosity, deposed.

lean into it, the lack of touch,
conspire to be held,
don't say, but wonder, quietly,
invitations to be unshell'd.

antediluviate memory,
neither repressed nor foregone,
... and paint the city lateritiously.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

First Meeting

Shellot-a-Lance
a'glanced at I,
and I at Shellot.
a furry shake,
hair, flies, dirt quake,
and grunted Shellot at I.

I sat, a pat upon the plat,
and Shellot stood beside;
then nudged me prone,
a'sideway thrown,
snorts and doesn't shy.

I crouch, a'glance
at Shellot-a-Lance,
Shellot just chewing cud,
innocence and oxen mixed...
weaponized or dud?

Shellot-a-Lance
a'glanced at I,
and I at Shellot.
he stared me down,
'neath shaggy crown,
tension growing taut.

--
Inspired by last night's 5e game, where my party played through "Sun Goes Down With A Ruby Smile." I divided the party, and when they rejoined me, I was having a staring contest with one of the oxen, who I have retroactively named Shellot-a-Lance.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

 "Hold on a sec."

Maeve and I paused in our tracks while Mendax left the trail and strode over to a large fallen branch. With a few certain stomps, she broke off a five-foot length, before twirling it in her hands a few times.

"That'll do," she murmured, rejoining us on the trail.

Maeve and I shared a look, I shrugged,she nodded, and we continued down the trail, Mendax peeling off bits of bark as we did.

-

I shook Maeve's shoulder and pointed out some rustling ahead of us while Mendax was distracted with her stick. Maeve smiled and patted my hand.

"So, what was your original plan for tonight?"

Mendax stopped suddenly. "Oh, it was going to be great! --Well, maybe not for you, my dear, sorry. We were going to see your counterpart about a problem she was having, unusually heavy skirmishes on the border between your territories. There were going to be some riddles to prove their worth, harried sparring by unidentified fae cast to get to the front line... and when they finally get there... oh, it was going to be a wonderful headache! Then, of course, you came along--"

"Sorry about that."

"No, not at all. If I can't adjust to the unplanned and unexpected, I shouldn't be a storyteller. No, I'll just hang onto it and use it another night."

"What if you could play it yourself?"

"Oh, that would be amazing! Totally feasible too: the riddles? I didn't write them; left all that to the NPCs. I've got an envelope of the answers, naturally, just in case," she fished it out and looked at it wistfully, "but we're nowhere near equipped or in the right... wait--"

Maeve snatched the envelope from her fingertips, a grin dancing over her face.

"--wait--how--but--we--you--"

Maeve's brow dropped, worried.

"Oh, this is so cool! You guys are the best!" Mendax let go of the stick and leapt forward, surprising Maeve with a hug. "--Oh, sorry, Um, are you going to supervise, since, you know..."

"Or," I stepped up, "You could revive Nevaris, and be your old self for a few hours."

Mendax's jaw dropped. "That's a great idea! The three of us in a party together. --Please Maeve? Pretty please?"

--
PreviousIndex | Next

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Only This And Nothing More

Mature Content

1
rap thrice upon the window,
scare me half to death,
make a rude gesture,
then continue on your path;

forget when I slighted,
your fault begat your due,
I didn't pay for piperage,
I gave what did ensue.

2
rap thrice on the window,
and I'll open up a pane,
squeeze yourself betwixt
the glass and the frame,

come quietly inside,
disappear between the sheets,
and when I come to bed
guide me under your pleats.

3
rap thrice, tap tap tap,
when I've stayed up late,
but I know the cost,
and it's definitely not your place.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fallout

 
so many written prayers,
forgotten promises, lost hopes;
so much wishing I'd done things differently,
and at the end of the rope;

so many misplaced melodies,
sonnets slip through the cracks;
words I'd said, wished I'd said,
pledged to have your back;

songs we danced to--
ground we'd fall to--
rain that couldn't touch our tears;
and the time
I made you decide...
fallout fulfilled our greatest fears.

Not Letting Go

not choices,
not voices,
not wondering if better off,
not someone else,
not for worse or health,
not in the darkness getting lost,
not falling,
not crawling,
not cliff-edge losing grip,
not floundering,
not drowning,
not feeling your fingers start to slip,
not forgetting,
not regretting,
not missed connections on the road,
not danger,
not anger,
I am not letting go.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

"You're done, Ody."

"But-- he can't--"

His narrator stepped up into his personal space. "Are you arguing with me, player?"

Ody dropped his gaze. "No, Mendax."

"That's what I thought. --Okay, line up, folks. Character sheets out, time for an update." She paused until the flurry of pages passed. "Ten percent health or two points, whichever is higher. Speed and ex at a quarter; strength at half; magic at zero. For every point of Charisma, your soul recovers ten percent faster with halving diminishing returns. Any questions?"

The rogue raised her hand.

"Yes, Panna?"

"What's the base recovery rate?"

Mendax glanced at me, and I shrugged, then held up two fingers. She nodded. "Forty-eight hours. Anything else? --No? Good. You're dismissed, and back to camp for the lot of you."

While the five of them trundled off, the Winter Lady stepped out of the shadows and stood next to me. Mendax faced us.

"Thanks for the card. She offered it back.

"Keep it. I've spares. You never know when you might need me."

Mendax tucked it back into her pocket. "Thanks. --So... do you two do this often?"

Maeve smiled. "Don't ask me, I only met him tonight, but from what I hear, it's a 'yes.'"

"An NPC freestyling on your arm, you must be special indeed, Callidus Igni. Who is your narrator?"

"Secondus, when he is available." I smirked.

Mendax gaped at me.

Maeve glanced between us and burst out laughing. "Oh, I love it when you do that!"

I raised an eyebrow at her, and she covered her mouth, which did nothing but further emphasize her reaction.

Mendax stuttered, as if her brain was still rebooting. "Wait-- you're that-- you--"

"Yes," I interrupted.

"He talks about you a lot. --Not like that. You're the epitome of players, in his eyes, and not because you never drop character, but because you play honestly."

"I don't fault you for doubting."

"Thanks. --So, where are you off to now?"

I shrugged.

"Right, no narrator to tell you where you need to be. Mind if I tag along for a little bit?"

I tilted my head toward the Winter Lady, letting her make the call.

Maeve stepped around, linking arms with Mendax instead, picked a direction, and started walking. "So tell me, Mendax. When was the last time you got to play?" While waiting for the reply, Maeve turned and winked at me.

It was then that I realized we were heading deeper into the woods, along Ody's original heading.

--
PreviousIndex | Next

Privatization 2/2

Privatization 1/2

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Do you know what's worse than no internet?

Do you know what's worse than no internet? Slow internet.

If you're out somewhere and your device says you have no signal, you pop it back in your pocket and ignore it for a few hours. You find freedom from your device.

If your device says you have a signal, but it's slow, tedious, then instead of waiting for it to pick up, you fight with it, wasting more time than you normally would permit for even the simplest of chores, like checking your email.

There's little you can do when the internet is down, there's nothing you can do when the internet is slow. It's a service that many of us pay arm and leg to, that many of us require to work or run our businesses, or have access to for health and safety.

But it's not considered a utility. As long as you pay your bills, the water company doesn't slow down your pressure for using it for certain reasons. They can't tell you it's okay to water your primroses but not your rhubarb. The gas company can't tell you that you can run your heater but not your grill.

So why can internet service providers artificially throttle websites?

"It's taxing our network too much."

I fail to see how that's the consumer's fault. We're paying you to maintain the network. That's what the bills we pay to maintain our connection are for. And if the companies don't have the money to upgrade the network, that's something to be blamed on the senior executives and their enablers, and their well-padded pockets.

We need to tell them it's not okay.
We need to show them it's not okay.

We need to flood their inboxes and their intake offices, and show them what it's like to have your life slow down because of artificial throttling.

And here's the best part: your local representatives in Congress are as much responsible for the throttling as the execs.

This is a democratic republic we're living in. If you don't like what your rep is doing, you're encouraged to do something about it, to tell them how you feel in person, by phone and fax and email.

https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/

Friday, July 7, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

The rogue caught up with me outside the forest.

"Hey, hold up."

I paused, but didn't turn back.

"What can I call you?"

"Igni."

"Fire? Okay. Is this something you do often?"

I grunted.

"I mean, play without a party or a storyteller. Given the chance, most people..."

I stopped and her feet stuttered.

"You're not most people. I didn't mean anything by that. What I meant was: how?"

"Don't be most people."

She stared silently at me, not trying to peer under the hood, but still trying to make eye contact. "Do you have any tips?"

I extended a hand. "Sheet?"

She reached back and pulled out a tattered paper, wearing holes at the folds, and offered it to me.

I reached within my cloak and pulled out one of my cards, mirroring her gesture.

"That's-- you?"

I grunted, and tucked it back within my folds without letting her peek. I didn't take her own.

"Okay." She turned to go.

"Wait."

"Yes?"

"Who are you?"

"You can call me Panna. Mercenary and vanilla mortal at your service." She swept her arms in a flourishing bow.

--
PreviousIndex | Next

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Un

twelve minutes past due and wondering why
money integrity happiness tried
optimism discomfort, pessimism packed
safe or sorry
should I give it back?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

hush

keep together but the whites in their eyes
build only what you can devise
lead the screaming hard cocked double meaning
keep copies of what it takes to survive

don't draw lines of who's coming in first
don't underestimate what you see as the worst
remember there's more than just stormy skies
when the blustering proves which way you're leaning

using a language only you speak
published quietly to avoid a leak
set a price for your integrity

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Demons (Out of Context)

no matter what we breed
we still are made of greed
imagination and poetry
when your dream all fail
in order to practice being
brave
don't get too close
it's dark inside
and it reflects in your eyes
it's where my demons hide
in the back
and just play
and dance
and live

Imagine Dragons | Edgar Allen Poe | Mary Tyler Moore | Sophie Loren | Kurt Cobain | Neil Gaiman | Ace Edmonds

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-7f

Start Here
--

You are bitten.Then the knob jerks, and you can feel venom being pumped into your hand. It spreads quickly, and so does the dizziness, until you slump down on the floor, take your last ragged breaths, and die.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-7e

Start Here
--

You are bitten. Your hand aches, and every time you use it, it hurts more. You decide not to use it unless you really have to.

Pick another - OR - Go back

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-7d

Start Here
--

Nothing happens.

Pick up another - OR - Go back

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-7c

Start Here
--

Which one do you pick up?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dime a Dozen (Out of Context)

two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled
and that has made no difference
because there are seven billion
forty-seven million people
on the planet
and I have the audacity
to question how "down"
I am because of the
bleak stereotypical
repetition
of affirmations
that leads to belief
that what you can contribute
to making one's life
the same stupid tape loop of
old sitcom dialogue and tattered memories
unforgettable

--

Robert Frost | Watsky | Issa Rae | Yayoi Kusama | Muhammad Ali | Leroy Hood | David Rockefeller | Joseph Wirthlin | Ace Edmonds

Saturday, May 20, 2017

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3f

Start Here
--

The corridor is narrow. Across from you on the opposite wall is another archway, and seems to open into a larger room beyond it. To your left, the corridor continues on for a little ways, but before you can round the corner to check, a small goblin flies at you from the north.

Wearing bracers willingly - OR - Tried removing bracers - OR - Left bracers behind - OR - Did not discover bracers

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-Z-1

Start Here
--

That's it. You've reached the end of your journey. For better or worse, you died within the dungeon.

Did darkness or greed consume you? Did you kill or mortally wound your friends? Did you strive for righteousness and do right by your fellow man? Did you do you best and merely fail on a moment of bad luck?

Please let me know in the comments, how far you got, what route and decisions you made, if you wish you had been allowed to make different ones, and what you thought of the crawl.

All input is greatly appreciated, and will be used to improve this and future DCNs.

Thank you for your participation.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-C

Start Here
--

Beyond the dragon, you can see an open archway in the southwest corner of the room. Though the dragon appears to slumber, engaging with it is the last thing you want, as it could easily bring the ceiling down on you both. In fact, it's some small wonder how the dragon came to be in this room, given how small all the passageways have been and how large it is. Even its back, which swells as the dragon draws breath, falls short of brushing the ceiling by mere feet.

Sneak around the dragon - OR -Approach the dragon - OR - Try to find the door you came from

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D0001-1-7b

Start Here
--

When you pick up the leather shoe-shaped doorknob, a hole at the south end of the hall lights up. It pulls you to it, snaps inside the hole, which cuts off the piercing light, but the section of wall swings open on hidden hinges.

The room beyond it is well-lit, and yu can see a dragon crouching in the middle of it. The dragon is the same color as the hound in the foyer, though its scales gleam in the torchlight as though they were very recently polished.

Though you may try to retreat back into the hallway, the curse upon the doorknob compels you forward, only releasing once the door and ground shut behind you, once again seamlessly blending into the walls around it.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-7a

Start Here
--

Tossing the boxes leads you to discover a stash of door handles that glow with a haunting light. One is glass, one is ivory, several appear to be the skulls of different animals, but if you dig to the very bottom, you'll find one that looks like a dirty leather shoe.

Pick up the shoe - OR - Pick another - OR - Go back

Friday, May 12, 2017

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-7

Start Here
--

Shelves line the walls in this hallway, which appears to be a dead end.

Look around - OR - Go back

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3e

Start Here
--

The moment you try to take them off, they tighten of their own accord around your forearms and all the benefits you just found yourself enjoying reverse--everything your wear and carrying burdens you all the more, like gravity has increased by ten percent, and your eyesight and hearing are handicapped below your ability before you put in the cursed gear.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3d

Start Here
--

If you put them on, they seem to fill your body with light. Your baggage and armor weigh less, you can see slightly better in darkness, and you can hear distant and subtle sounds better.

Continue to the corridor - OR - Take off the bracers

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3c

Start Here
--

If you put the bracers in your bag, you'll find they grow heavier with every passing step, slowing and wearing you down. You endeavor to continue, but your torch will sputter out (if it hasn't already) before you can reach the open archway in the east wall, and you'll fall to your knees.

You know it's the bracers, and a curse set upon them, but you're too consumed with greed to set them aside.

This will be your final resting place.

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3b

Start Here
--

If you take the time to polish them, you forget about everything else until they gleam-- and then your torch sputters out. You'll sit in the deepening darkness, believing you can still see them, admiring the shine.

Put them on - OR - Put them in your bag

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3a

Start Here
--

Most of the room is barren of anything useful or profitable, until you check the sack.

When you examine the lone fallen sack, you find a pair of bracers which glint dimly in the torchlight. They feel heavy in your hands, and your can feel the edges of jewels hidden under the grime.

Polish the bracers - OR - Put them in your bag - OR - Put them on - OR - Set them aside and continue on

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-3

Start Here
--

The east archway opens into another storeroom, slightly narrower and shallower than the last. More boxes and barrels, and one lone sack which lays fallen on the floor. There's one exit, an open archway at the end opposite from your entrance, and it leads into a narrow corridor.

Search the room - OR - Approach the east doorway

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-2b

Start Here
--

If you pull out your flint and generate a few sparks, you can see just well enough and just long enough that you discover the walls are lined intermittently with loaded and prepared torch brackets, and one more spark lights the nearest torch. You take it out of the bracket, grab a spare unlit one, and look around you.

With the rediscovery of light, you find yourself in a storeroom, the center loaded with boxes, barrels and sacks. If you take the time and effort to go through them, you'll find foodstuffs long past rotted, gear long past rusted through and useless, coins too pitted out to tell their value, and water and wine spoiled and rank.

You can see a door in the middle of the south wall and an open archway in the east wall. Beyond that, this room holds no secrets, no threat, and no profit.

If you have an injured party member, this room makes an ideal place for them to rest and wait for you to find another way out. Though the room is barren of supplies, you can still use the sacks, boxes, and barrels to make them comfortable, and some defensive barriers just in case something or someone should come up on them while you're away.

South door - OR - East archway

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-2a

Start Here
--

Pull out a spare torch and light it.

With the rediscovery of light, you find yourself in a storeroom, the center loaded with boxes, barrels and sacks. If you take the time and effort to go through them, you'll find foodstuffs long past rotted, gear long past rusted through and useless, coins too pitted out to tell their value, and water and wine spoiled and rank.

You can see a door in the middle of the south wall and an open archway in the east wall. Beyond that, this room holds no secrets, no threat, and no profit.

If you have an injured party member, this room makes an ideal place for them to rest and wait for you to find another way out. Though the room is barren of supplies, you can still use the sacks, boxes, and barrels to make them comfortable, and some defensive barriers just in case something or someone should come up on them while you're away.

South door - OR - East archway

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-2

Start Here
--

The darkness is complete.

Has torches - OR - Has a flint - OR - Completely unprepared

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1g

Start Here
--

You bolt for the passageway, leaving your partner to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, not having your lack of clumsiness proves fatal, as they stumble on shifting debris, and land within the dark beast's reach. You turn back and hoist them to their feet, dragging them well out of the way before examine their injuries.

One of your partner's legs is badly mangled, and he can't walk on his own. You help him out of the room and lean him against the next wall, bandaging him up as best you can, ensuring that if nothing else, he won't bleed out.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1f

Start Here
--

You bolt for the passageway, leaving your partner to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, not having your lack of clumsiness proves fatal, as they stumble on shifting debris, and are completely pinned before you can go back and get them.

If you were to try and save them, you too would be trapped in the crumbling room, and if you're lucky, be quickly crushed.

They recognize your torn decision, which could prove to be just as fatal, and they shout at you to save yourself. You dodge through the portal into the next room, refusing to let yourself look back.

You lose 1 party member.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1e

Start Here
--

You grab the shoulder of your canine distraction before he trips amidst the rumbling and loses a limb or worse. Even before your eyes can adjust to the deepening darkness, you scramble into the next room.

Continue

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1d

Start Here
--

If you try for south first, a passage opens in the southeast corner of the room, but the effort of opening it shifts the scree at the entrance, collapsing it.

Run for the passageway - OR - Grab your distraction

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1c

Start Here
--

If you try for north first, the ground will begin to rumble and more than dust will fall freely from the ceiling; you'll only have a quick moment to decide to pull it the other way and hope to be rewarded by an opening secret door, before you flee the falling ceiling.

Indeed, a passageway opens in the southeast corner of the room, but the trap is already triggered and the room is collapsing.

Run for the passageway - OR - Grab your distraction

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1b

Start Here
--

You wrench at the lever, and find it can shift one of two ways, north or south.

Don't think too long, lest the dog realize you're a far easier target than your partner posing as bait.

North - OR - South

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1a

Start Here
--

If you opt to stay, you'll discover a dark dog the size of a bear in the center of the room. It's chained to a massive iron lever, partially buried by already fallen sediment, but you can't tell if it's the result of a partially engaged trap, mere time, or a combination of the two. The dog is too quick to engage closely, so if you're journeying alone, you're out of luck; but if you have a partner, you may be able to distract it. Choose your fastest party member to focus on the dog and least clumsy to go for the lever, or you both shall fall.

Journeying alone - OR - With a party

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-1

Start Here
--

Your eyes adjust slowly to the gloom, while you choke on the falling silt-laden dust. An unwary step causes rumbling threaten above, the dark stone ceiling looking overburdened by the mountain above it. If you skirt around the edge of the room, you may be able to prevent finishing what weather and time could not.

Dark eyes pierce the darkness, watching you. You can imagine seeing hackles rise and teeth be bared, but only when you hold your breath and listen closely can you hear deep growling. The beast seems constrained to the center of the room, but that earns you no relief as you complete the circuit and find no passageway to the rooms beyond.

You could leave the way you came in and search for another access, or try to approach the center of the room and hope to expose a secret door. Surely, given the apparent state of this dungeon, you could find an exterior collapse that would lead invite you into deeper halls.

Stay and approach the center - OR - Look for another way in

DCN: Dungeon Crawl Narrative - D001-1-0

The entrance was over grown and crumbling. Only those that were looking for it or knew where to look would separate the rubble of fallen columns from regular scree, and draping from classic underbrush. Within the entryway, dust falls heavily with silt, the darkness hangs cloyingly close. If you listen closely, you can hear the subtle sounds of claws scrambling on stone as your shadows dances over the small pinholes in the fallen stone, letting light pierce into the foyer.

Enter the dungeon

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Untitled (6 May 2017)

I woke in darkness.

-

There's an etheral quality to knwoing you''re alone. Knowing that there's nobody watching, nobody listening, nobody just around the bend waiting to intrude on your insanity. I was completely alone.

Well, not quite.

I was indeed alone, but the world wasn't empty. No, the world slept, waiting for a day to awake from the violent technological apocalypse and dawn into a new age.

It was small handfuls at first: the risk takers who had nothing to lose with illegal and experimental technology, and then the ungodly rich who could invest in every safeguard known to man. And then the still awake got richer, the technology got safer and cheaper, and soon a quarter of the population was leapfrogging through time. They wanted to see the future.

It made the patenters rich, and their riches made them greedy. They bid it all on the day the masters awoke, threw every remaining dime into compounding interest accounts, and dove eagerly into their own stasis pods.

Several generations vanished in a single year.

But too many people went under. The economy collapsed. Food cost more than a one way ticket to tomorrow, and the poor crammed themselves into every last pod, disregarding all those extensive safety measures just for a chance to live into the new dawn of civilization.

Most of them won't make it. They knew it. I knew it. But hope can be a terrible thing.

-

I want to say stasis failure is an uncommon thing, but it's not. I want to say I don't feel the loneliness, but I do. I want to say I'm grateful I woke, rather than just rotting, but as time passes...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

We opted to head deeper into the forest rather than backtrack.

"So, uh, do we have a plan?" Succus asked as we walked.

"Find them. End them," Umbo growled coldly.

"I guessed that much. But should we decide on some more details?"

"Assess on sight," I whispered.

"If you don't know what to do, stay out of the way, sis."

She scowled in silence.

-

I snatched back Succus's shoulder moments before she stepped out into a small clearing. Ahead of us, I could see a small triangle of casters, crouched on the ground.

"Wha--" she cut off quickly as her brother's hand clamped down over her mouth.

I released my grip before Umbo could glare at me. Instead he asked, "How many?"

"Three."

"So are we going to take them?" Succus glanced between us.

"No. Caster first."

"Fine. Then where do we go?"

Libitia rolled his eyes. "We go around. We found the edge, just the wrong part. He glanced between me and Umbo. "Split up or stick together?"

I shrugged.

"Secondus?"

"If you wait to engage until I get there, you can split up. And I'll go with whatever group is without Callidus. --You'll ref in my stead, I trust?"

I nod, and step to one side of the path, opposite him. Umbo joins Secondus, dragging his sister along.

The satyrs mutter to each other. "Callidus? It's your call."

"I can police myself."

"And move faster in darkness without us?"

I shrug. It mostly went without saying, so I didn't.

"Then it's settled. Which way do you want?"

I pointed in the direction that appeared darker, the trees and undergrowth denser, and the path narrower.

"I guess we'll see you around then."

Succus snorted but stifled it quickly. I turned my back on them and headed out.

-

When I was far enough out, I pulled back my hood and tucked it under the back of my cloak, out of the way, before bending sharply at the waist and picking up my pace. I could move faster if I didn't have to worry about the hood catching on stray branches or obscuring my peripheral vision, and my profile more closely resembled the size of the sort of animal that had worn out this path.

I'd skirted around two more trios before I was grateful for opting for this direction; it would have been a shame if the faster-moving of our two halves found the caster less than halfway around.

At the third cleaning, I paused, taking a few moments to catch my breath before peering in. This clearing was larger than the others, and my suspicions were confirmed with the glare of a bright light pooling around a figure kneeling over what could have been a book or scroll.

I took a few steps back, deeper into the shadows, and settled down to wait.

-

Succus broached the circle of brush and stumbled to a halt noisily.

The caster, a young woman, raised her eyes from the scroll and stared daggers, her voice still carrying the spell's repetitive casting, but the change in tone was enough to stir the trio feeding power into the circle into action. The pinnacle shrugged off their partners' hands, "Go deal with it; I'll compensate."

Succus was yanked backward into the darkness abruptly and shielded by her brother as the pair advanced. They drew a pair of bronze short shorts, stepping in time with each other.

Umbo settled into a deep stance and pulled the broadsword from his back. "Come and get me."

They hesitated a moment at the size of the sword he held with apparent ease, sharing a look of dismay, but at his challenge, they charged.

At the sound of swords clashing, Laetatio and Libitia stepped out from the forest, a quarter turn around the circle between Umbo and myself, hand-in-hand. Before they could advance too far, however, a pair of dryads stepped out of the shadows not far from me and lithely leapt into their way.

I stretched as I rose, but before I could join in the fray, Secondus entered the clearing and shouted, "Hold."

Everybody stopped while he approached the other party's storyteller--currently holding the flashlight/witchlight for the caster--traded grips and conferred for a minute. I saw the flash of character sheets pass between them, making sure that everybody was doing no more than what they were supposed to be capable of, and in the process had a small dispute about the validity of what was probably my own abilities. Finally, the other storyteller nodded, and Secondus retreated again.

When he had returned to a suitable vantage point, he shouted again. "Resume!"

The fights began once more, and I stepped into the light.

--
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Monday, April 3, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

"So how do we take down a null field?" Succus glanced around her party, only to see a lot of shrugs. "If nobody knows, how are we supposed to do this?"

"Asking the right questions."

She scowled at me. "But I don't know enough to know what the right questions are!" She stomped her foot.

"Learn."

"But how do I--"

Libitia shushed her. "Learn by asking questions. Use gained knowledge to ask better questions. Repeat as necessary."

I nodded.

He looked at us, and took charge. "So what do we know about null fields?"

"No magic," Succus answered wearily.

"No magic? Or no access to magic?"

"What's the difference?"

"Callidus?"

I shook my head. "Just illusion. Innate only. Internal casting. Nothing real, just deception, and not on this scale."

"But you're intelligent."

I shrugged.

"What do you think?"

I paced around them a few times, doing just that. Succus slumped against a tree.

I cleared my throat. "What is magic?"

"Fuel for spells," Succus yawned.

"No," Libita whispered." It's life, energy. Not everybody can tap into it, but it's in everybody. Callidus can probably only tap into his own well of it, but not the world's well. Alcohol doesn't increase my well, it increases my access to other wells."

I nodded. "How do you take that away?"

Libitia connected the dots and gasped. "If I were doing it-- No way. Hold on." He sat down and started drawing in the air.

"Hey, no casting," Succus whined.

Laetatio covered her mouth. "He's not casting, he's running numbers. So much magic is knowing the math behind what you're doing. Secondus, what's his magic bonus with alcohol?"

"Plus ten per deciliter."

Libita snatched the number out of the air and tossed it into a hole in his calculations. A few minutes later, he slumped back, breathing heavily. "Holy shit."

Succus started, as if she'd fallen asleep.

"Okay, if I wanted to set up a null zone, I'd use a circle. Seal off the inside from the outside, and then drain the inside. But it would fall at sunrise unless it were either a greater circle or constantly powered. For either of them, I'd be too drunk to be conscious."

I smiled, remembering a little of my learnings. "If you were alone."

He slack-jawed stared at me. "You-- that's-- just-- Right. Basic magic theory: three each, five points around the circle, plus the caster. They could even be middling talents, unless the circle is really big."

Succus tallied the numbers on her fingers. "How are the five of us going to take on-- sixteen mages?"

Libitia smiled. "Not sixteen. Four."

"But you just said--"

"Stop the caster, stop the spell. That alone would allow it to degrade at dawn, but it won't collapse. Take out one of the points; if it's not being powered symmetrically, it should tear itself apart. But if we take out one of the points without dropping the caster first, the resulting damage could be directed at us, to merely fatal consequences, if we're lucky."

"That's a lot of shoulds, and we don't even know where they are."

He looked at her sadly, disappointed.

Laetatio hoisted her to her feet. "It's magic theory, dear. Holds over to practice better than science does, and the location is obvious."

"What--"

"We're inside a circle."

--
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

Strolling through the deep shadows of moonlit night was something I always found relaxing and peaceful, but all that changed with the Winter Lady at my side.

For one, I strode carefully, my footsteps measured, careful, precise; she was literally skipping. For another, I kept my silence to respect the world of the woodland; she was more chatty than my understanding of Faerie Queens had led me to expect, not that I held claim to a lot--or any--firsthand experience.

-

We spotted lights out in the distance, flickering between the trees.

"So..." she dragged me to a halt. "How do you want to play this?"

"What?"

She glanced at me askance. "You know, the fun. The game. The leading astray." She paused. "How do you usually do it?"

"If it's spontaneous like this, I follow for long enough to see if they know where they're going. If they do, I slip ahead of them and treat them as if they don't--"

"Though if they weren't going the right way, they wouldn't have stumbled over you."

"Quite. If they are actually lost, I approach them from the rear--"

"Offer to help and then lead them further astray."

"Yes."

She stomped her foot. "How boring! Don't you ever want to mix it up? Try something different?"

"Every case is different. They react differently, resist differently, if they resist at all. There are some lines I hear a lot, and some I never hear twice. But other than that, no."

She pouted.

"Unless I know enough to plan ahead. Set up some illusion magic, put a good scare into them, maybe even do the whole nine yards of devouring the souls."

"You don't just, you know, improvise?"

"Improvisation leads to mistakes. Mistakes lead to failure. Failure diminishes reputation."

"Oh." She sighed. "That sounds boring. Not fun at all. It sounds like--"

"Work."

"Yes!"

"It is work. We can't all be Faerie Queens, you know. But I like the work. And sometimes something unexpected happens, like somebody stumbling across me when I'm resetting my gear--"

"After a planned ambush?" Her eyes lit up.

"Exactly like that."

-

I strode up next to the gal at the back who looked like a rogue or archer, trying to keep an eye on the rear but failing. It might have been easier if she hadn't been holding so close to her compatriots' torchlight.

"Are you sure this is the right way," I leaned in to whisper.

"If Ody says it's the way we go, it must be, or the right way is wrong."

"Huh. And if it's the wrong way?"

She shrugged. "What Ody says goes. -Hey, who are you?"

Before she could wonder too deeply, I picked up the pace again, sowing a little doubt on my way to the front.

"Excuse me, it's Ody, right?"

He stopped and stared at me. "Who are you and what are you doing?"

"Who I am matters little. I'm just concerned because you seem a ways off the beaten track. I don't often see many folk this far out."

"We're fine, old man. Move along."

"Your friends don't seem to think so."

"My-- Look now." He stepped closer to me, trying to get into my personal space and stare me down. "This is MY adventuring party, one which you are not a member of. And we are most definitely not lost."

"Hey now, calm down. I'm not trying to cause you any trouble. But I do know these parts pretty well, and I can say that some fairly nasty fae live in the direction you're going, and you'd do well not to tangle with them. If that's your plan, don't let me stand in your way." I stepped aside, gesturing for him to walk past me.

He took the bait, striding into the darkness I'd indicated, at a right angle to his previous head. I waved politely as the rest of the party tromped by, and slipped a card of my identity and skillset to their narrator.

Not twenty minutes later, they were back, and I hadn't moved.

"Not look here." He got into my face again. "I don't know what sort of game you're playing, but it ends here and now."

I stepped out of the way and gestured again, this time down their original heading.

"No. We're not falling for that a second time." He led out opposite to my first direction, now in the other right angle.

-

Half an hour passed and they were back.

"You! It's your fault! What did you do?"

"Stood here, mostly." I shrugged. "I've barely moved since you first confronted me."

"You're a liar."

I grinned suddenly. "I can't lie."

Ody jerked back a step like I'd slapped him, and glanced at his narrator, who nodded. "Faerie," he spat, "I loathe faerie. Attack him."

"It's too late. You're lost and your party is too tired to fight me with any chance of winning, let alone crawling away afterward."

"I'm not lost. I always know what direction I'm facing." He thrust a ragged piece of paper at me, presumably his character sheet.

"That doesn't do you any good if you don't travel the direction you're facing, or perform regular checks. Or if someone uses illusion to throw you off track. Just because you know which way you're facing doesn't mean you know where you are."

The party narrator steps up beside us. "Sorry, Ody, but he's got you dead to rights."

"You are fired," Ody hissed through clenched teeth.

"That's not for you to say." She crosses her arms, her smile dripping saccharin.

"Fine, fine. What's the toll?"

I tilted my head to the side. "Toll?"

"What's your price? What do we give up to get you to let us go."

"I'm afraid it doesn't work like that." I reach under my robe and retrieve my lantern. "I have no need for your trifling trinkets."

"Then what do you want?"

"That's the wrong question."

"What's the--"

The rogue from the rear pushed to the front, shoving Ody aside. "What sort of fae are you?"

"There's the right question."

"What are you? Enough of your games," Ody shouted impatiently. "What. Are. You?"

I bowed before them, sweeping my lantern arm wide. "I am a will-o-wisp, and my price is your souls."

--
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Monday, March 20, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

Mature Content
--

"Well now, what do we have here?"

I looked up from my work resetting my rigging to see a woman in blue and white step out of the darkness of the night. She was attractive and walked like she knew it, and was utterly unknown to me.

I set aside my web of puppet-strings and bowed respectfully to her. "Good evening, my lady."

"Oh, and a gentleman to boot. I like you."

"Thank you, ma'am. --Pardon me, but may I ask--"

"Don't worry about me. Continue with your work." She smiled deliciously and leaned against a tree.

I glanced down and then up again, and she had leaned forward eagerly. "I'm sorry, but I can't do that." I reached under my robe and pulled out my lantern. "Do you know what I am?"

"A creature of the night, I suppose, else you would not be out so frivolously inattentive at this hour. Beyond that, I can only speculate. Do you know what I am?" She pranced closer to within my lantern's glow.

"All I know is how you look."

"And how is that," she preened.

"Lost. May I help you find your way?"

She laughed, and it was no mere chuckle; she leaned back and roared, and the action did nothing to draw the eye away from her supple curves. "Oh, you are good. That's very good. Yes, I like you very much."

"Ma'am?"

"I see you for who you are. You bear a friar's lantern, you can only be a will-of-the-wisp."

I smiled. "Very good." I took a step back, pulling the shadows over her once more. "But knowing what I am and resisting me are two very different things."

She danced back into my light and closer still. "Wyldfae." She tasted the word slowly. "I love wyldfae. Unaligned and unconcerned about it. Tell me, Wisp, have you ever lain with a scion of Winter?"

"I can't say that I have."

She touched my cheek, her hand very cold. "Would you like to," she purred.

I raised my empty hand to stroke her face, her cheek, her neck, before wrapping my hand around the soft, pale flesh, applying some pressure and pinning her back against a tree. "I care not for your writhing flesh save to separate it from your grasp on this world. Were you mortal, I would devour your soul while you begged me to save you from the darkness; but a faerie, servant to a Queen who is ignorant of my work-- I will break you and drink your power," I trailed off into a harsh whisper.

"Harder."

"What?"

She grabbed my hand. "Squeeze harder. I love it when they get rough."

I smiled grimly. "Never let it be said that I disappointed a lady."

She moaned as I tightened my grip. "You're wrong. I do see. It is good work that you do, Wisp. Let me reward you. She writhed eagerly.

"What! Who are you?"

She moaned louder, struggling only to tempt me.

"Who are you, who walks in the night alone and unafraid of being led astray?"

She locked her eyes on mine and ground her body against the tree, unable to do so against mine.

"Thrice I say and let it be done. Name thyself," I thundered.

The forest quieted at the command, and I could hear her choked whisper without leaning closer: "Maeve, the Lady Winter."

-

"Wait, please! Come back here! Where are you going? At least tell me your name."

At the last request I stopped, turned, and stared at her. "Not my name, given from my own lips, to a faerie, let alone Lady Winter herself. I am not so gullible."

"But--"

"I am the only wisp in these woods, you may call me such until you can find one to make introductions."

She put her hand on her head--out of character. "But--"

"Thrice I say. No."

She looked at me askance and dropped hew arm, slightly wowed, then skipped up to me. "Ah, you're one of those then." She looped her arm within mine. "I like you even more now." She pouted and leaned into me.

"Can I not be rid of you?"

"Why would you want to? Strolling around with a Lady on your arm, what could be better? Unless you are beholden to someone--" she unlaced her arm from mine. "It would place a burden on me to interfere with your duty,:

I growled, and she warily took a step back. "My only duty is to lead others astray, and I have fulfilled that obligation once already tonight. Any more is- is-"

"Fun?"

I sighed. "Yes my lady. Any more is for my satisfaction alone. Fun, as you say."

She leaned in and kissed my cheek. "Then let's go have some fun."

--
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Friday, March 17, 2017

FINCI: What Happens When You Fail

At the dawning of the sun, The Lady Winter strode through her forest and scowled. The null field still stood, and while it wouldn't stop her from doing what needed to be done, it was an inconvenience, and she didn't stand by and let those who inconvenienced her get away with it. The insult was dealt.

-

Secondus woke groggily at the shaking, and found one of his NPCs standing in his tent, scowling. He squinted in the early morning light. "I'm up, I'm up. What's this-- oh."

"You know what needs to be done."

"Yes, my Lady. And you need a witness, which means you need me."

She said nothing while he scrambled out of his sleeping bag and pulled on his somewhat worse-for-wear storyteller garb, marking him to all others that he was not to be messed with. When he was at last presentable, he led her out of his tent--holding the flap for her fully in-character--and hunted down those shelters from his party.

Continue reading on DreamCruder

--
Index

Thursday, March 16, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

Admittedly, most of the wailing emanated from concealed speakers shielded from the electrostatic burst, but Succus contributed her own shrieks at it and the sudden dowsing of the boys' lamps.

Umbo and I caught up swiftly, dragging Secondus along with us as he clenched my shoulder tightly.

"What Happened?"

"I don't know, Umbo. The lights just went out and they won't come back on. And that ghastly noise." Succus shivered.

"Null zone?"

I nodded.

Umbo frowned. "No magic."

At these words, the satyrs pulled out small skins and took sips of the liquid within. Succus tried to share it with them, but they held them close and tight.

"Any other time, love, but not in the middle of this. Speed and Dexterity."

"We'll need the boost, though I'll be half-impaired, love. Strength and Magic."

Secondus whispered, "Libita, your boost is enough to overload the zone slightly. You have one point of magic while boosted."

"So light up!"

"Sorry, Suc. I need three for illumination."

"What can you do with one?"

"Perceive. Secondus?"

"The wailing is an illusion, but what is creating it is concealed from you. The sound alone can do no harm, but what it bodes can and will."

Libita glanced at me. "Callidus?"

I reached out my fingers like stroking hidden strings on the wind.

"Callidus has no magic within the zone."

I winced. Pulling back my hands, I mime wiping my eyes clear and peer around us.

"I thought you said he had no magic," Succus reminded.

Secondus smiled. "He gets a sight bonus in darkness. The darker it is, the higher the bonus." He cleared his throat, and resumed his narrative voice. "You see nothing amiss. The forest is still, and appears empty."

I grunted, somewhat annoyed. Secondus was good--he told me only what I needed to know, even during the setup. Aside from my vision, I was as much in the dark as the rest of them.

--

A regal figure stepped out of the wood.

Secondus whispered to Umbo, "You recognize her and kneel."

Umbo's face pales and he quickly lays himself supine. "My Queen."

 Succus gasps.

"Thank you, sir." She stares down the satyrs, and they scramble to their knees. "Callidus?"

I bow my head but nothing more. "My Lady."

The boys gape at my insouciance, but she only smiles at me. "It is good to see you again."

"I hope to say the same. How may we aid you?"

"First, you can turn off that obnoxious sound. I think they get the point."

"Of course. Secondus?"

"Spiritus Nocte, close your eyes. To you, no time will have passed between closing them and reopening them." He nodded to me. "Go."

I brushed back my hood and flicked on a shielded flashlight, then oriented myself and stepped behind a particular tree, locating the cables for the speakers. I disabled them, and in another moment, returned to my previous location and position, the flashlight disappearing into a hidden pocket once more. Before I dropped my hood back down, Umbo caught my eye and smirked. I nodded to Secondus.

"Spiritus Nocte, open your eyes and if you have only blinked, and indeed, that's all you have done."

Succus puts her hand on her head--declaring herself out of character. "What was that about."

Umbo duplicated her gesture. "The man who never steps out of character stepped out of character." He dropped his hand.

Succus glared at me before doing the same, disappointed.

I repeat in the same tone as if nothing had happened, "How may we aid you?"

"First, you may introduce me," the woman smiles.

"Spiritus Nocte, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to The Queen Who Is To Come, Lady Winter. Lady Winter, my companions are Umbo, Succus, Libita, and Laetatio."

"Thank you, Callidus."

I bow quickly and succinctly, before straightening once more.

"Umbo. Fetch." She smiles. "Oh, but I so do love a nice strong fetch." She extends her hand and allows him to kiss it. "I don't need you tonight, but it will do you no harm to tag along, I suppose. And your apparent care from young Succus is quite precious.

"The young ones now... Supple. Flexible. Unaligned." The Lady spoke slowly and deliberately, finding each word more delicious than the last and not eager to spit them quickly out. "Yes, you are what I need." She walked up to Succus, still frozen awkwardly between her brother's supine pose and the satyrs' kneeling position, and caressed her face.

Secondus narrates, "The Lady's touch is colder than the coldest thing you have known, as befitting a Queen of Winter, and as sensuous as a young and ancient Queen Who Is To Come. She is Daughter to Mab."

Succus gasps at the touch, but leaned into it hungrily.

The Lady ran her thumb across Succus's lips, and she parted them, breathing heavily. Umbo growled.

"Yes, she is perfect. Do not worry, little fetch. If she performs well, she will come to no harm. Nor the satyrs. I have a quest that needs doing before the dawning of the sun, and time already grows short."

"Why should we take your quest?" Libita asked.

"Why indeed. Callidus?"

"Profit if you do, insult if you do not."

She smiles broadly. "Harsh but true, expect no less from you."

I grunt.

"What do you need us to do?"

"It's very simple. Find the source of the null field and deactivate it."

"And what do we get out of it?" Libita continues.

"Favor in my court." The Lady smiles down at Succus, still at the mercy of her touch.

Secondus clarifies, "That's worth more than iron at the heart of Arctis Tor, and will keep you alive longer too."

"Quite." The Lady turns suddenly and strides back into the darkened woods. At her withdrawn touch, Succus collapses.

"Where's she going? We didn't accept," Laetitio interjects.

"Choice is an illusion."

"Quite," Secondus repeats to me, his tone grim.

--
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Party of Four

"Look, I'm not saying it's a character building thing, but--"

"No, you're not saying it isn't. The fact of the matter is that I packed my gear one way and you do it another. Just because your way was taught by your peers and superiors in the field doesn't mean it's inherently better or worse than my way, discovered and decided by what works best for me. If you want to train yourself to tolerate what worked best for someone else--though they or their students may have too much ego to realize we're not all built the same way--be my guest. I'm making the conscious choice to find my own way, and that may mean that I suffer through more trials of error than you do learning to love someone else's method, so be it. --I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off like that."

We walked in silence for a few dozen paces.

"Don't sweat it." He patted my shoulder. "Logically, I know that doing things differently doesn't mean doing them wrong, but emotionally, it's harder to recognize that. We good?"

I nodded.

"Good. --Well, it looks like the guys have found us a place to call it a night. Shall we pick up the pace a bit and join them?"

"Sure."

Tim and Tom, the other two gents in our party, had found a small clearing and were setting up their tents under the sheltering boughs of a great evergreen. Phil paced out a section for his own shelter while I took a look around. Ten feet was the closest I could find a reasonable pair of anchor points, with an ideal set twice as far out.

"Well?" Phil watched me expectantly. He'd brought me in on this little expedition, and was already finding my methods a little eccentric.

"Hmm?"

"What? Surely you're not shy about setting up your gear. For all your talk of trial and error, I'd at least assume you'd done this before. Go on, I left you plenty of room."

I scowled and turned away for a moment, before spinning back. "I'm not shy," I countered, before sauntering off to my more distant ideal. The brush was thick enough I could only smell when they got the fire going, and though the woodsmoke was pleasant enough, their raucous chatter intruded on the green song around me--the reason I did this.

As dusk gave way to dark and the fire burned down, Phil wandered out to find me.

"Well, that explains a few things," he said, drawing my attention away from watching the sky and the woods. "You should have said something, we could have moved."

"No, Phil. If I were sleeping on the ground, a bed of needles is exactly where I'd want to be. They chose well. I tried sleeping on the ground for many year--one of my schools did camping trips and it was practically part of the curriculum--but I was never comfortable; I could never get comfortable." I looked at him. "The first night I spent in a hammock, I slept better than in my bed at home. That was it for me. I was never gong back to a tent after that."

He got quiet, than let out a small chuckle. "That explains your packing attitude. How much space does it take?"

I reached down to the gear between my legs, grabbed a drybag, and handed it to him. "Two more of those."

He gaped openly, handing the bag back. "You might make a convert out of me yet. Sleep well."

"You too."

Monday, February 6, 2017

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

"Welcome to Spiritus Nocte, your party for this week's adventure. I'll be your storyteller, Secondus. Shall we start with a round of introductions?"

"Sure. I'm Laetatio, and this is my boyfriend, Libita. We're satyrs, young and in love. And always, always ready to party." He slurred his words a little, mildly inebriated.

"I'm Succus, unaligned Fae, and this is my overprotective, overzealous older brother and Winter-aligned fetch, Umbo."

I grunted as they turned to look at me, bright-eyed and bushy-winged. "Callidus Igni. Wisp."

Succus let out a small gasp, and danced closer to me, her lithe hand reaching up to pull back my hood. I caught her wrist at the same time Umbo clenched her shoulder.

"Brother, You're hurting me," she whimpered. His fingers stayed knuckled white, and I released her as she was pulled back under his wing.

"Calm down now. There's enough trouble to go around, and you're going to need your strength for what lies ahead. You three, begin your journey." Secondus gestured down the path into the dark woods beside him. "Umbo, Igni, and I will be close behind."

The satyrs cast rudimentary lighting spells, summoning lanterns that glowed with a blinding blue tinge. They bookended Succus and skipped into the gathered shadows.

"Relax, Umbo, they're not going to get too far ahead. Just enugh to keep ourselves from being blinded. Igni?"

I knelt, rubbing my hands together and activated a murky red glow from the bottom of my robe, illuminating the ground around my feet. As I stood, I murmured, "the blood of mine enemies shall guide my steps."

"Wonderful. I forget what a delightful person you are to be around. Lead the way."

I growled lightly and set a pace that would allow them time to chat and still see the road. My eyes, on the other hand, were nearly as good as I claimed, and the sky shone bright enough for my liking.

"Umbo, I know how you feel about your sister, but you're going to need to back off tonight. She needs to show her own strengths to save her from her weaknesses, or she won't survive the week. Igni is a good man, strange in his ways, but good. If you can't trust him, trust in me and my trust of him."

Umbo grunted.

"Good man. Now, enough tallying. It's time to start our story. Igni, hit it." He slapped my shoulder.

I pressed a button, and the world went black. A few seconds later, the wailing began.

--
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Meatspace

Don't be mistaken. I'm no 'hat, and barely worthy of the title. Sure, I know things, but I don't have the bandwidth to go toe to toe with the blacks or the whites. Because, underneath it all, I'm not technically a hacker.

I could probably throw in with either side if I was so inclined, if I had the wherewithal to learn a bit of code, get my fingers truly dancing across the keys, but there's enough of those already in the world, and few enough of me.

My name is Ikt. It's like ick, synonymous to yuck and eww, but it's got the glottal stop at the end. Ikt. If you don't feel like you have to clear your throat at the end, you're saying it wrong.

I'm a spider. I've got my fingers in a lot of pies, and I dance across the web using other people's services, black, white and somewhere in between. I'm the guy who uses an RSS feed to automate his house and an RNG to write music. I could use something more comprehensive and complicated, but why mess with what works.

It's minimal points of failure, massive redundancy, and security through obsolesce all rolled into one. I'm harder to hack because all it looks like is the daily weather forecast, but it's the key to my home security system. It looks like the Silk Road, but it's really my music archives. It looks like a Lego tower built out of K'nex but it's really my digital toolbox, kitted and fitted to the nines. It looks like all the decorative artwork worth pennies of your time, not worth lifting and taking to the corner fence, but it's money and wealth and weapons, everything I need for anything from a romantic getaway in Venice to a HALO on a Lakota reservation.