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February 26th, 2018

12:39 am: Defending the Wood Perilous — Part Three: The Wood That Is Perilous

Part One   Part Two

When I was in high school, we had something modern schools don’t seem to have called study hall. During study hall, you were free to do choose what to do. You could study, do homework, sometimes even talk quietly. Me? I chose study hall in the library, where I could wander through the stacks, reading titles and book blurbs, looking for the next thing to read.

Our school library was a place of magic. It had high dark shelves filled with books on all sorts of topics. I would wander among them, lost in daydreams, wishing that I had a magic power that would lead me right to a book I would enjoy reading. I read all sorts of books during study hall: historicals, romances, mysteries, the occasional fantasy, but my favorite books were the fairy tales.

High up on a shelf were a series of books, each of a single color: red, blue, pink, gray—Andrew Lang’s Red Book of Fairy tales, etc..  

We did not have them all, and I don’t think I ever finished reading all that we did have, but I read a number of them cover to cover. I also discovered and read a wonderful book of Nordic fairy tales that included a number of stories of Cinder Peter* and what might be my favorite fairy tale of all, East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

 * It was here that I learned that the familiar character Cinderella was really Cinder Ella—Ella who spends time in the cinders.

One thing I loved was reading fairy tales from around the world and seeing how much they had in common. For instance:

There is a Celtic tale of a man who came upon a beautiful woman bathing. Lying beside her was a cloak of brown fur. The woman was a selkie, a seal who had taken off her fur to enjoy the sun. The man grabbed the cloak and hid it. He took the woman home and made her his wife. She was a good wife and mother, but one day, while cleaning, she found her lost cloak, hidden in a box under some blankets. When the man came home, he found his children crying and his wife gone. She had fled, returning to the sea.

This tale is also told in the Scandinavian countries, only it is a swan cloak the man steals, rather than that of a seal. In Italy, she was a dove. In Africa, she was a buffalo maiden. In Japan, it’s a crane cloak; in the Americas, a bear cloak.

The story is told all over the world, always the details are the same, always as simple, only the animal changes.

This simplicity, which makes it so that I can tell almost the entire story in one paragraph, is one of the joys and mysteries of fairy tales. We go out of our way nowadays to write long descriptions, to make our writing “fresh”, to “show not tell”. And yet, fairy tales are almost entirely telling. They are age-old, and they stay exactly the same.

And yet, they are just as enjoyable now as they were three or five hundred years ago.

They are almost entirely pure story.

Read more…

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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February 14th, 2018

01:02 pm: Venus is here!

In honor of St. Valentine's Day, here is Planetary: Venus   — the anthology edited by A. M. Freeman and myself. This volume also contains a short story written by me that takes place in the Prospero's Children background and features Miranda and Astreus on their Honeymoon!

Venus, the second planet from the sun, a world of sulfurous gas and tremendous temperatures where the landscape features—mountains and valleys—are all named for love goddesses. Venus herself is the goddess most known for allure and romance. 

Here are twenty stories featuring Venus, the planet, the goddess, or just plain love—both romantic and otherwise. Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.

Just Look, I’ll Be There, by A. M. Freeman —A Gypsy boy leaves Venus for the stars, but his beloved’s eyes shine brightest of all.

Morning And Evening Star, by David Hallquist — A honeymoon among the sulfurous fumes of Venus takes an unexpected turn.

90 Seconds, by Bokerah Brumley — Online video blogger heads to Venus for the ultimate extreme sports, and jumps into something more than just the sky.

The Wrong Venus, by Lou Antonelli — The worst criminals are sent to a high security prison on Venus, but an intrepid criminal might get himself sent to a different Venus.

Enemy Beloved, by Monalisa Foster —  Love is blind. But what will happen when the blindness ends and the terrible truth is reveled?

Texente Tela Veneris, by Edward Willett — If you could change the history of your love life, would you? That is the question a pair of tourists on a remote Grecian island must answer.

Happiest Place On Earth, by Misha Burnett — A story of pure love in an unexpected place.

Love Boat To Venus, by Declan Finn — On a tour around the solar system, elite fighters pause to give marital advice, until they are interrupted.

Venus Times Three, by Vanessa L Landry — Two lawyers travel to Mars to settle a will that, inexplicably, involves Venus. Will they be able to untangle this complicated web?

Avalon, by Dawn Witzke – A new school on Venus brings new opportunities for a young man to escape the shadow of his childhood friend.

The Rituals Of Venus, by Joshua M. Young — A hero fights cultists among the jungles of Venus for the sake of his love. Can he save her?

First Cat In Space, by  Dana Bell — Some cat has to be lucky enough to be the first cat in space.

Venus Felix, by W. J. Hayes — A routine day at the bar turns into anything but for this gumshoe, when robots begin shooting at a newcomer.

The Rocket Raising, by Frederic Himebaugh — A young girl must choose between marrying her love and venturing to a new world for the sake of her people.

Star-Crossed, by Julie Frost — A werewolf detective helps an unlikely client in her revenge after her lover is murdered, but old memories aren’t the only thing that comes back.

Honeymoon In Fairland, by L. Jagi Lamplighter   — Can love and trust be rekindled between a betrayed husband and his wife? Even when they are as powerful as Gods? 

37 Shades of Yellow, by J.D. Beckwith — The new Venus base is up and running, but what does it take to live there when your wife is homesick for Earth?

The Fox’s Fire, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail — A spirited fox spirit seeks love in ancient America.

Smiley The Robot, by Amy Sterling Casil — An old woman living alone on Venus finds herself falling for Smiley, the police robot.

Stones In High Places, by Jane Lebak — A dying world watches with anguish as a young one awaits its demise, until one man conceives of a way to save them, but it will take an act of unprecedented love.

See on Amazon

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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February 13th, 2018

11:04 pm: Now Available to Members of The Roanoke Glass Newsletter

This short ebook, beautifully typeset by my excellent typesetter, Joel C. Salome, is now available to anyone who joins The Roanoke Glass newsletter.  

The link to download it comes in the third newsletter. There is also an oportunity to download a short fiction work in the second newsletter. The first four newsletters, with freebies, etc., come one week apart. After that, the newsletter is an occasional affair.

Subscribe to The Roanoke Glass!

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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February 11th, 2018

01:16 am: He Anointeth Our Heads with Oil

I am always amazed at the things God asks us to do. Wrote this a few years ago.

In late August of 2006, I was driving to help my mother-in-law. The price of gas was over three dollars a gallon. As I drove along, it suddenly struck wrong to me that people should be having to pay so much for gas. Oil prices affected everything: gas, airfare, heating, shipping, food that needs to be shipped. It came to me quite strongly to pray about this.

My first thought was: prayer can’t change gas prices! But the quiet message seemed clear, so I prayed.

I started with the thought that oil was an idea and that all people had equal access to God’s ideas. I worked with Mrs. Eddy’s definition of oil: “Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration.” (S&H 592:25) Consecration and heavenly inspiration were hardly the kinds of things that a person could own, fight over, or limit.

As I drove, the price of gas began to go down.  It was $3.07 where I started, but each gas station I passed had posted a price that was a few sense less than the one before it. At the end of my hour trip, I filled my tank for $2.64 a gallon. The experience was awe-inspiring.

Once I got home, I pulled out my Bible. I found that we can a lot about oil in the Bible, especially about its abundance. Elijah asks a widow woman to made a little cake. When she explains that she has only enough oil for one cake left, he tells her to make one first for him and then for herself and her son. She does this, and the meager oil in her jar did not fail until the rain came again, and there was more food.

Elisha meets a widow who cannot pay her husband’s debts. She fears that her two sons will be made into slaves. He tells her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and filled them from her pot of oil. She does this and that one pot pours out enough to fill all the vessels. The widow sells this extra oil and is able to pay all her debts and keep her children.

While it does not appear in my version of the Bible, I also reviewed the story of the Maccabees, in which lamp oil enough for one day burns for eight days until a runner is able to return with more. This event is commemorated each year by the holiday known as Chanukah.

Obviously, petroleum is not the kind of oil used in Biblical times. Yet, I still found it interesting that in those times, like now, oil was used for so many things: eating, cooking, cleaning (instead of soap, one oiled one’s body and then scraped the oil off with a special scraper), as medicine (the good Samaritan puts oil on the injured man’s wounds,) and for lighting lamps.

The fact that in each of these stories more oil appeared, right where there seemed to be a shortage was quite eye opening to me! Inspired by these Bible stories, I prayed to understand that the earth was not a limited material object but a spiritual idea. Therefore, our access to the idea ‘oil’ could not be limited to a set number of pre-existent oil reserves but must be as dynamic as Mind itself.

A few days later, I happened to be flipping radio stations and caught a commercial for the Washington Post. It was a two line ad for an article announcing the finding of one of the biggest domestic oil deposits in years! I later looked this up on the Internet and found, yes, such a deposit had been found in the Gulf of Mexico. The New York Times called it “potentially the largest American oil find in a generation.” (New York Times: “Big Oil Find Is Reported Deep in Gulf,” Sept. 6, 2006) I felt that this was a reminder that there is no limit to ideas.

I continued to pray in this fashion. I even shared these ideas with some friends. When I had returned home from my mother-in-law’s, the price where I had started that first day had only gone down a penny or two from the original three dollar price. Over the next month, however, each day, when I went out it had gone down a little more. By the end of September, I bought gas in a nearby town for $1.98 a gallon. The price then stabilized at about $2.19 and remained in that vicinity for quite some time.

Has not God promised to: “anointest my head with oil?” (Psalm 23:5) When we turn to God in all things, we can be certain that, like the widow who consulted Elisha, our pot of oil shall “runneth over.” 

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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February 3rd, 2018

02:39 am: Defending the Wood Perilous — Part One: We Live In A Fairytale

I have been working on this essay for a couple of years, finally got the first part done:

We live in a fairytale.

You might not realize this as you struggle to pay your bills or sit in a traffic jam on your way to work. You might miss the magic as you surf the web or rub your aching temples. You might think that this world is mundane, filled with dreary drudgery. But that does not make it any less true.

What fairytale is this, you wonder? It’s a story about a precious prince or princess who has become lost in a distant land, unable to find home again. It is a story about hope and the forces of darkness, and how all the Powers of Hell are bent upon the purpose of crushing the spirit of our main character.

It is a story about the Prince of all Princes, who left His throne to come slog through the mud and hang on a cross to open the door that will let our prince or princess pass over His threshold and find the way home again.

That fairytale. You know the one—the one where you are the hero.

If you read it in a storybook from start to finish, you would gasp with awe at the bravery of our little protagonist and cheer at the triumphs. If you could see it with all the traps and terrors—the demons that tempt, the imps that irritate, the willow women who weave deceptions over the eyes of the men, until they believe that black is white, up is down, and boys are girls—you \would cry out in fear at the hurdles our heroes and heroines must cross, and you would weep with joy when they, struggling through the webs and fog, refuse to leave the path.

Read the rest on Superversive SF

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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February 1st, 2018

11:17 pm: Gypsie Princess Effie: Episode Two–Robin Hood was a Gypsy

The diary of Effie the Gypsie Princess was written by our friend Brian. 
Episode One is here.

 


(art credit — this seems to be a character from Game of Thrones.)

Old gypsy tale tells of great hero to the gypsies, Robin Hood. This Robin Hood took from those who had plenty and gave to gypsies, it is known.

Effie dreamed of being like this Robin Hood and now it is true.

It all started like any other day in our haunted, run-down house.

Effie prepared breakfast for her family early in the morning to prepare for day of finding bad guys for money.

Across the street, another family, lives in a house like ours. Our breakfast was interrupted when outside, the wife, who is nice and all, was crying and screaming. When we went to investigate and learned that a Count Bartholemew (another from the board of wanted criminals) had kidnapped her husband, because he could not pay loan payment of 10 Berries.

The party decided to set out to save her husband but did not know where to go. Black Hawk stopped to question some man for directions to a pawn shop that some thugs ran for the Count. The man gave us directions, but they were rather long consisting of at least 1 or 2 turns that easily confused Black Hawk, so Effie decided to act upset to get the man to lead them. Trilby, though, reminded Black Hawk that she would remember, and, while the man was busy trying to comfort the ‘upset’ Effie, told him he was no longer needed. Effie being raised by gypsies couldn’t resist the opportunity and picked the pocket of the man for a few Berries before he started off.

The party full of mind readers and just generally observant people all noticed what Effie had done. Ager immediately told her to give it back. Black Hawk and Trilby both agreed. Effie tried to explain that the man clearly left it laying about in his pocket for others to take but that argument went over like a lead airship. Black Hawk explained that we could only take things from bad people and tracked down the man to return his money. The man asked where Black Hawk got it from and stared at Effie, perhaps he was still taken by her beauty.

Effie asked to return to the house to use the bathroom before they set off, and, while there, changed her clothes not once but several times before settling on an outfit to go out adventuring in. Now properly dressed she was ready to head out no longer worried that any blood Ichigo spilled would show as much should it get on her.

The group followed the directions that the man gave precisely because Trilby, with her perfect memory, was able to make sure we did not deviate.

On the way to our destination the party saw signs of disturbances in the force. There were turned over cabbage carts and other various fruit vendors. There were people complaining of Angry Panda who was trashing the place.

Effie said she heard of this Angry Panda and his notorious group the Infuriating Five, even though there were at least 6 of them.

Continuing down the street the signs of Angry Panda passing grew more frequent, fresher, and soon the noise ahead alerted the group that they had caught up to Angry Panda.

Angry Panda was a large angry panda wielding a flaming sword. Even worse he was not alone he was with the rest of the Infuriating Five, Mantis, Tigress, Monkey, Snake, and Crane all of which were causing trouble.

In a flash, Ichigo unsheathed his giant sword and challenged Angry Panda to a duel. Black Hawk summoned his legendary black hawks, and Trilby summoned up the mice of the area.

Snake ate a mouse then quickly dashed into a drain pipe and was not seen again. Monkey looked like he had pilfered the pants of some man as he took off jumping from roof top to top with 20 some hawks chasing after him not to be seen again.

Crane leaped at Black Hawk and pecked him once in the head.

Effie did a small dance around Crane and, in doing so, caused the fire from Angry Panda’s sword to leap up and strike Crane, cooking him perfectly in the process.

Ichigo, in a terrible fury, struck with his blade, just as the fire from Angry Panda flew past Angry Panda’s face cleanly removing his panda head from his panda shoulders.

Black Hawk closed in on Tigress who was being harassed by 20 black hawks and with a quick precision strike killed her with a clean blow to the heart.

Trilby sent what seemed like a tidal wave of mice over Mantis, who put up a valiant fight, but was eventually overwhelmed and begged for mercy.

The Infuriating Five, now Infuriating Four, with 2 members having fallen.

Black Hawk granted Mantis his request, but when he learned Mantis had little ransom value, turned Mantis over the local constables. Black Hawk also gave the constables the body of Angry Panda.

The party kept the head of Angry Panda, the well cooked Crane, the corpse of Tigress, and the once flaming sword of Angry Panda as loot.

Effie got to keep the sword, Black Hawk wanted the Tigress pelt, Ichigo got the panda head, and Trilby got the well-cooked Crane.

Trilby had her mice borrow a bag from someplace to put the crane in and asked her mice to return the crane to the house for her.

Ichigo, in a show of skill, did a quick cut with his sword and was able to remove enough of Tigresses body from her pelt that Black Hawk’s black hawks could carry the pelt back to the house for him.

What Ichigo did with the panda head is not clear, but, to be fair, some things are best not known.

Effie keep the sword and carried it with her.

Effie was a bit confused why Trilby could have mice steal a bag and that was OK, but it was not OK for her to pick up loose change from the man’s pocket. As the party debated why one was OK and not the other, a nearby merchant was complaining that mice carried off a bag of his. Ichigo offered the man 1 Berry for payment of the bag which Black Hawk picked up and said not to pay, the bag would return soon. Ichigo took the Berry back and gave it to the man who, amazed to get a Berry for a bag, took off running.

The party then started back off following a giant moving arrow made of white mice all the way to the pawn shop.

Inside the pawn shop was a bunch of stuff and jewelry. Effie wanted to try on all the jewelry and asked to do so while the others tried to question the owner.

A heated discussion broke out about meeting the Count now, and Black Hawk grabbed the owner by his shirt to make a point, but when he did so blue sparks came out of the back room and surrounded Black Hawk freezing him in his tracks.

At this moment, black hawks started to peck at the doors and windows, which Ichigo let in. One of the thugs started to call pigeons but they did not fare well against hawks. Trilby sent her mice looking through the shop, Effie used the chaos to start cleaning the place out of all the jewelry, and Ichigo calmly watched waiting for a signal to act from Black Hawk.

Effie, while cleaning out the jewels, is surrounded by blue sparks, which freezes her, but she is able to break free in short order by trying to focus on dancing.

Meanwhile, there is still a lot of commotion as the thugs try to free their boss from the frozen grasp of Black Hawk and have to cut his shirt off to free him.

The boss starts yelling for us to get out, or he is calling the constables, and one of the thugs draws a bow, with an arrow knocked at Effie telling her to back away from the property.

Black hawks fly into the face of the man with the bow, and his arrow goes well wide. The hawks start pulling at the man’s bow and successfully pull it free. The man then pulls a gun, but as he does so a black hawk lands on the head of Ichigo.

Ichigo, who had been calmly watching it all, leaps to life in that instant, closing the distance to the man who has gun in hand, and, in a quick sweep of his sword, knocks the gun out of the man’s hand. The man takes off running in that instant to escape towards the back room.

Unfortunately for him, Trilby and her rodent friends had found the kidnapped man in the back room. The mice had chewed the ropes off of the kidnapped man, who punches the fleeing thug out as he is trying to escape.

Effie tells the party that her gypsy sight says they should flee now before the constable comes. Effie picks up the frozen Black Hawk and sets him outside like a statue outside a cigar shop. Trilby and Ichigo follow suit as the owner yells after the party that the Count will get us for what we have done.

The party, once back at the house, start talking about how to divide up the loot from the pawn shop. Effie is loathe to part with her bag of jewels.

Black Hawk goes across the stree to check on the woman and her husband to find both are in good shape. Black Hawk has the lady come back and talk to Effie about her outfits during which time Effie shows the woman various items of jewelry and tells her stories about how she got them from various made up relatives.

Black Hawk insists that loot has to be divided fairly, and Effie storms off in a huff not wanting to give up the jewelry slamming the door to her room. The lady from across the street, believing Effie’s stories about the jewelry being family heirlooms, tells Black Hawk he is mean to want to take Effie’s family jewelry from her. Black Hawk gets the lady to divide the loot into 4 piles one of which is for Effie and to place any so called heirlooms of hers in that pile. The lady still feeling bad for Effie divides the loot as asked but puts the most valuable items in Effie’s pile.

Ichigo doesn’t want any of the loot though, and Black Hawk has Ichigo’s share distributed between the 3 other piles. Black Hawk then pens a letter to the newspaper telling people they can come to the house to claim any items that they pawned if they have the ticket and appropriate funds. Black Hawk has the lady take the letter to the paper for him.

Effie returns from her room , wearing yet a different outfit, angry over the loot thing because she wanted the jewelry.

Ichigo starts repairing the house and goes out and buys cleaning supplies. Black Hawk finds a hidden chest in the house, but Ichigo tells him to put it back it belongs to the ghost living in the house. Black Hawk agrees but on the condition the ghost has to help guard the house at night and warn us if there are intruders. The ghost agrees, (or at least, Ichigo says he did), and Black Hawk returns the chest.

Ichigo tries to get Effie to clean, but she is angry and refuses saying she does not clean. Effie says she does do things like cook though and although she is a vegetarian herself gathers up some random vermin and burns to a crisp to serve to Black Hawk and the others.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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11:17 pm: Gypsie Princess Effie: Episode Two–Robin Hood was a Gypsy

The diary of Effie the Gypsie Princess was written by our friend Brian. 
Episode One is here.

 

Old gypsy tale tells of great hero to the gypsies, Robin Hood. This Robin Hood took from those who had plenty and gave to gypsies, it is known.

Effie dreamed of being like this Robin Hood and now it is true.

It all started like any other day in our haunted, run-down house.

Effie prepared breakfast for her family early in the morning to prepare for day of finding bad guys for money.

Across the street, another family, lives in a house like ours. Our breakfast was interrupted when outside, the wife, who is nice and all, was crying and screaming. When we went to investigate and learned that a Count Bartholemew (another from the board of wanted criminals) had kidnapped her husband, because he could not pay loan payment of 10 Berries.

The party decided to set out to save her husband but did not know where to go. Black Hawk stopped to question some man for directions to a pawn shop that some thugs ran for the Count. The man gave us directions, but they were rather long consisting of at least 1 or 2 turns that easily confused Black Hawk, so Effie decided to act upset to get the man to lead them. Trilby, though, reminded Black Hawk that she would remember, and, while the man was busy trying to comfort the ‘upset’ Effie, told him he was no longer needed. Effie being raised by gypsies couldn’t resist the opportunity and picked the pocket of the man for a few Berries before he started off.

The party full of mind readers and just generally observant people all noticed what Effie had done. Ager immediately told her to give it back. Black Hawk and Trilby both agreed. Effie tried to explain that the man clearly left it laying about in his pocket for others to take but that argument went over like a lead airship. Black Hawk explained that we could only take things from bad people and tracked down the man to return his money. The man asked where Black Hawk got it from and stared at Effie, perhaps he was still taken by her beauty.

Effie asked to return to the house to use the bathroom before they set off, and, while there, changed her clothes not once but several times before settling on an outfit to go out adventuring in. Now properly dressed she was ready to head out no longer worried that any blood Ichigo spilled would show as much should it get on her.

The group followed the directions that the man gave precisely because Trilby, with her perfect memory, was able to make sure we did not deviate.

On the way to our destination the party saw signs of disturbances in the force. There were turned over cabbage carts and other various fruit vendors. There were people complaining of Angry Panda who was trashing the place.

Effie said she heard of this Angry Panda and his notorious group the Infuriating Five, even though there were at least 6 of them.

Continuing down the street the signs of Angry Panda passing grew more frequent, fresher, and soon the noise ahead alerted the group that they had caught up to Angry Panda.

Angry Panda was a large angry panda wielding a flaming sword. Even worse he was not alone he was with the rest of the Infuriating Five, Mantis, Tigress, Monkey, Snake, and Crane all of which were causing trouble.

In a flash, Ichigo unsheathed his giant sword and challenged Angry Panda to a duel. Black Hawk summoned his legendary black hawks, and Trilby summoned up the mice of the area.

Snake ate a mouse then quickly dashed into a drain pipe and was not seen again. Monkey looked like he had pilfered the pants of some man as he took off jumping from roof top to top with 20 some hawks chasing after him not to be seen again.

Crane leaped at Black Hawk and pecked him once in the head.

Effie did a small dance around Crane and, in doing so, caused the fire from Angry Panda’s sword to leap up and strike Crane, cooking him perfectly in the process.

Ichigo, in a terrible fury, struck with his blade, just as the fire from Angry Panda flew past Angry Panda’s face cleanly removing his panda head from his panda shoulders.

Black Hawk closed in on Tigress who was being harassed by 20 black hawks and with a quick precision strike killed her with a clean blow to the heart.

Trilby sent what seemed like a tidal wave of mice over Mantis, who put up a valiant fight, but was eventually overwhelmed and begged for mercy.

The Infuriating Five, now Infuriating Four, with 2 members having fallen.

Black Hawk granted Mantis his request, but when he learned Mantis had little ransom value, turned Mantis over the local constables. Black Hawk also gave the constables the body of Angry Panda.

The party kept the head of Angry Panda, the well cooked Crane, the corpse of Tigress, and the once flaming sword of Angry Panda as loot.

Effie got to keep the sword, Black Hawk wanted the Tigress pelt, Ichigo got the panda head, and Trilby got the well-cooked Crane.

Trilby had her mice borrow a bag from someplace to put the crane in and asked her mice to return the crane to the house for her.

Ichigo, in a show of skill, did a quick cut with his sword and was able to remove enough of Tigresses body from her pelt that Black Hawk’s black hawks could carry the pelt back to the house for him.

What Ichigo did with the panda head is not clear, but, to be fair, some things are best not known.

Effie keep the sword and carried it with her.

Effie was a bit confused why Trilby could have mice steal a bag and that was OK, but it was not OK for her to pick up loose change from the man’s pocket. As the party debated why one was OK and not the other, a nearby merchant was complaining that mice carried off a bag of his. Ichigo offered the man 1 Berry for payment of the bag which Black Hawk picked up and said not to pay, the bag would return soon. Ichigo took the Berry back and gave it to the man who, amazed to get a Berry for a bag, took off running.

The party then started back off following a giant moving arrow made of white mice all the way to the pawn shop.

Inside the pawn shop was a bunch of stuff and jewelry. Effie wanted to try on all the jewelry and asked to do so while the others tried to question the owner.

A heated discussion broke out about meeting the Count now, and Black Hawk grabbed the owner by his shirt to make a point, but when he did so blue sparks came out of the back room and surrounded Black Hawk freezing him in his tracks.

At this moment, black hawks started to peck at the doors and windows, which Ichigo let in. One of the thugs started to call pigeons but they did not fare well against hawks. Trilby sent her mice looking through the shop, Effie used the chaos to start cleaning the place out of all the jewelry, and Ichigo calmly watched waiting for a signal to act from Black Hawk.

Effie, while cleaning out the jewels, is surrounded by blue sparks, which freezes her, but she is able to break free in short order by trying to focus on dancing.

Meanwhile, there is still a lot of commotion as the thugs try to free their boss from the frozen grasp of Black Hawk and have to cut his shirt off to free him.

The boss starts yelling for us to get out, or he is calling the constables, and one of the thugs draws a bow, with an arrow knocked at Effie telling her to back away from the property.

Black hawks fly into the face of the man with the bow, and his arrow goes well wide. The hawks start pulling at the man’s bow and successfully pull it free. The man then pulls a gun, but as he does so a black hawk lands on the head of Ichigo.

Ichigo, who had been calmly watching it all, leaps to life in that instant, closing the distance to the man who has gun in hand, and, in a quick sweep of his sword, knocks the gun out of the man’s hand. The man takes off running in that instant to escape towards the back room.

Unfortunately for him, Trilby and her rodent friends had found the kidnapped man in the back room. The mice had chewed the ropes off of the kidnapped man, who punches the fleeing thug out as he is trying to escape.

Effie tells the party that her gypsy sight says they should flee now before the constable comes. Effie picks up the frozen Black Hawk and sets him outside like a statue outside a cigar shop. Trilby and Ichigo follow suit as the owner yells after the party that the Count will get us for what we have done.

The party, once back at the house, start talking about how to divide up the loot from the pawn shop. Effie is loathe to part with her bag of jewels.

Black Hawk goes across the stree to check on the woman and her husband to find both are in good shape. Black Hawk has the lady come back and talk to Effie about her outfits during which time Effie shows the woman various items of jewelry and tells her stories about how she got them from various made up relatives.

Black Hawk insists that loot has to be divided fairly, and Effie storms off in a huff not wanting to give up the jewelry slamming the door to her room. The lady from across the street, believing Effie’s stories about the jewelry being family heirlooms, tells Black Hawk he is mean to want to take Effie’s family jewelry from her. Black Hawk gets the lady to divide the loot into 4 piles one of which is for Effie and to place any so called heirlooms of hers in that pile. The lady still feeling bad for Effie divides the loot as asked but puts the most valuable items in Effie’s pile.

Ichigo doesn’t want any of the loot though, and Black Hawk has Ichigo’s share distributed between the 3 other piles. Black Hawk then pens a letter to the newspaper telling people they can come to the house to claim any items that they pawned if they have the ticket and appropriate funds. Black Hawk has the lady take the letter to the paper for him.

Effie returns from her room , wearing yet a different outfit, angry over the loot thing because she wanted the jewelry.

Ichigo starts repairing the house and goes out and buys cleaning supplies. Black Hawk finds a hidden chest in the house, but Ichigo tells him to put it back it belongs to the ghost living in the house. Black Hawk agrees but on the condition the ghost has to help guard the house at night and warn us if there are intruders. The ghost agrees, (or at least, Ichigo says he did), and Black Hawk returns the chest.

Ichigo tries to get Effie to clean, but she is angry and refuses saying she does not clean. Effie says she does do things like cook though and although she is a vegetarian herself gathers up some random vermin and burns to a crisp to serve to Black Hawk and the others.

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January 19th, 2018

09:15 pm: Book Signing tomorrow (Saturday, January 20th)

John and I will be signing books tomorrow at 1pm at:

Booktrader of Hamilton
2421 Nottingham Way
Hamilton, NJ 08619

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 18th, 2018

10:52 pm: Effie’s World

Once upon a time, a friend wrote up some game notes in amusing detail–particularly because the character's view was…quite different from that of everyone else involved. That amount of effort deserves to be shared. The reports get funnier as they go along, but they don't make much sense out of context, so I starting early on. 

A tiny bit of background: This takes place on the world of Merry-Go-Round, which is in Siderea, the greater universe in which Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts exist. Shimmerbolt is the name of the main city. The Velvet Oyster is a popular tavern, run by a nymph.  Blackhawk [played by John C. Wright] is another name for Vseslav Morozovich Volshevnic Romanov, an ex-pirate who would like to conquor something, but currently only controls four people: himself, Effie, and their other teammates, who are: Asger Ichigo Kurohaku (known as Ichigo), an unemployed Einherjar, and Lady Trilby Moth, a young woman from under the sea who was telepathic and could conjure. However, she was only telepathic with rodents and she could only conjure rodents.

 


Effie  — (best as I can tell, this lovely painting is called Fire Dancer.)

Hodos ano kato, "the way up and the way down"

If one stands at the bottom of a hole it a long way up but if one stands at the top it is a long way down.

Understanding that the thing and its opposite exist in all things in a state harmony is not always easy to see or grasp, especially when you are at the bottom of the hole looking up.

So starts my story when my world both ended and began.

The only family I had known had taken me to Shimmerbolt and set me out on my own. I was heart broken, angry, lost, and confused.

I had just been attacked by a man for no reason and accused by his lady of using magics to entrance him to these actions. My family listened to me and believed me I am sure of it but the next day they said I had to go on my own.

To make things even more confusing I had a dream the night before where a mystical and wise armadillo named Ankle told me to seek out people I had met before and to save the world.

With little more than the clothing on my back, which if you know me is not much at all, I walked crying into the Velvet Oyster.

I was so upset that I did not notice at first that three of the people from my drea were there in the tavern.

Trilby, who I had not seen for a bit, saw me and tried to comfort me but I was too upset.

Mid sob I was suddenly swept off my feet and found my self over the shoulder of Asger Ichigo Kurokakui, which did little for my crying. He carried not in the most dignified manner, tossed over his shoulder so much like a sack of potatoes or your prototypical damsel, I still managed to look good while doing so.

There I was bottoms up when the voice of another old acquaintance, Vseslav Morozovich, Volshevnic Romanov aka Vasil the Seer, Vasil the Son of Winter, Vasil the Falconer, aka the Black Hawk greeted me and said I was looking good.

Ichigo put me down and Black Hawk tried to also comfort me by telling me how horrible life is and eventually offered me some Russian medicine, voka. It was foul tasting but I did feel a little better after a bit.

We learned the 4 of us had the same dream and Black Hawk, who spoke with such authority, said it was fate.

Realizing we had nothing, I started to cry again, but Black Hawk said we would go to the board outside and take a job to earn some money.

We decided that we would try to tackle a local villain by the name of Bad Horse, who turned out to be in fact a bad horse.

Black Hawk used his impressive powers to scry the location of this Bad Horse and called to him 40 black hawks, not related, to fan out and find this villain.

Black Hawk then told Trilby to use her amazing ability to read the minds of mice to help find him too.

After a bit following the mice and hawks, we traveled outside of town and spied a horse and 3 cowboys down in a chasm in a camp. Trilby said she was sure that was Bad Horse from the picture and as Black Hawk and I talked about if we could save this bad horse and what the plan was Ichigo in an amazing and scary display of skill and ferocity leaped down the 50 foot chasm. Ichigo, who clearly must like tea because he had been carrying a teapot all this time, tossed his teapot in the air, split Bad Horse in two from nose to belly, and caught the teapot on its way down without spilling a drop!

Black Hawk decided to stop figuring out a plan at that point and tried to get the girls to get behind a rock for protection as he sent his 40 Black Hawks after the cowboys who took off running.

Ichigo said there were ghost of murdered people at this camp and we agreed to return some of the items we found to the families. The remaining treasure we found was split 4 ways. Trilby got 2 nice dueling pistols and the other 3 of us got 100 Berries each. I also go a nice leather satchel which was good because my outfit was not practical at all for the life of adventuring.

While I didn’t need to lift a finger the level of carnage created by Ichigo combined with his ferocity somehow raised my spirits.

We then walked back to Shimmerbolt with Ichigo carrying / wearing the corpse of Bad Horse which was simultaneously horrifying and impressive. This attracted a rather large crowd as we took his corpse back to the port authority for payment.

Black Hawk gave an impressive speech and then told us all to leave but when I turned to leave he told me to stay.

The port authority paid us 25 Berries each for Bad Horse. We went from being broke to being well off really quickly.

We followed Ichigo as he went, covered in the gore of battle and smelling as bad as he looked, to some random houses that he said ghost told him to go to and gave some of the stuff to the people in the houses.

We then went on a shopping spree, which was a lot of fun, where I purchased some new clothes and a pair of old and unreliable boots of flying.

Black Hawk used some of his money to rent us a haunted house for a month and sent his birds out to bring us back some game. I volunteered to prepare a meal for my new found family as we settled into our new home.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 15th, 2018

07:21 am: Mercury! A new anthology

New from Superversive Press: 

Ever wonder how Erasmus Prospero came to be on a first name basis with the Swift God? The answer is in a short story appearing in:

Planetary: Mercury

MERCURY!

Innermost of worlds, blasted by the sun by day and frozen by night, Mercury remains an enigma. Mythical Mercury was also the messenger and trickster, and known for blazing speed and wit. Here are thirteen tales of science-fiction and the fantastic featuring Mercury.

Throughout history, the planets of our solar system have meant many things to many people; Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.

Included in this volume are 

In the Palace of Promised Immortality by John C. Wright 
Schubert to Rachmaninoff by Benjamin Wheeler 
The Element of Transformation by L. Jagi Lamplighter 
In Tower of the Luminious Sages by Corey McCleery 
The Haunted Mines of Mercury by Joshua M. Young 
Quicksilver by J.D. Beckwith 
Ancestors Answer by Bokerah Brumley 
Last Call by Lou Antonelli 
Deceptive Appearances by Declan Finn 
mDNA by Misha Burnett 
The Star of Mercury by A.M. Freeman 
Cucurbita Mercurias by Dawn Witzke 
The Wanderer by David Hallquist

 

And if you have not read the Prospero Children's series yet, you can find the first one here:

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