Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writing in Starts and Fits

I've been writing only intermittently for a while, because last week I lost my job. While this gives me more time, it also give me more stress, which hasn't done me any favors. Especially since I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with the Third Night. This is a pain, because I know what I want to do for the Fourth and Fifth Nights, as well as the Seventh. But I can live with this. Mostly I need to get some feedback, so I'm looking to join with some critique groups to get my mind working. It should help revise the versions of the story I have going now.

I am about a third to a half of the way through the Third Night. Part of the problem I'm having is that I'm introducing more characters and more description into this bit. I'm not worried about that.

The part I'm worried about is that this section is going to turn into a drug trip, which I want to be able to write realistically AND comprehensibly without having to go the step of actually getting high.

So it's a challenge. But I'm committed to writing this thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New PDF Availible: The First Night!

It's here! The First Night of Gaven Morren's tale is available on Again, I plan on editing these more, so please feel free to provide feedback and other comments!

Just a note:
Creative Commons License
The Tale of Gaven Morren--The First Night: Into The Shadows by Anson Brehmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The World of Aldora

The tale of Gaven Morren began as a dream of a world-building project called Aldora. The idea was of a shared world, using the Creative Commons, to give authors tools and weave a tapestry of ideas together, building on the ideas of others.

Miir was my contribution to this project. I wrote pages and pages of information on this city here, and used a few things from other authors. Other writers, in turn, took some of my ideas and fleshed them out in interesting and different ways. I plan on posting may of the Miir-specific background I posted there on this blog, but I feel I should acknowledge the project that helped me get this far in the first place.

Feel free to visit the AldoraWorld site and browse around. There is a LOT of information there, more than I could possibly fit into this story. And hey, if you feel like joining, it would be great to see the porject picking up steam again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Second night of Gaven Morren now available on PDF!

The Second Night of The Tale of Gaven Morren is now available on PDF at I'm working on getting the First Night available as well, but for now enjoy the collection of the Second Night in all it's glory.

It's my goal to improve these PDFs as I go back and edit the story, and I would love to have some feedback, so if you've got some comments on things you liked or what could be improved, feel free to pass them along!

Just so you know:

Creative Commons License
The Tale of Gaven Morren--The Second Night: Through the Belly of Miir by Anson Brehmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Tale of The Exile--The Second Night: Though the Belly of Miir (Part 9)

Part 9: Pain and Penance

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Ow! Oh-OW-that-sodding-hurts-it-sodding-hurts-it-HURTS-it-HURTS-it-HURTS!

Grabbed the muzzle...just as the gun went off...heat and FIRE...flash burned my hand...oh it hurts...Lucky I didn't blow my fingers off...Ow...Ow...I look at vision's all blurry from the tears of PAIN down my face...please by the dragon don't let me be crippled...

He's moving...standing slowly...don't think he was hurt... ohthepainohgodwhydidIdothat... he looks at me...face all blurry, it's the tears...Being STABBED has hurt less than this...he's saying something...I think he's asking why..."I don't sodding KNOW why!" Left hand in agony...

It takes a minute or two for me to calm down. Breathing helps. The fact I'm not dead helps, too. Eric uses some of the sheets as a bandage. My hand REALLY hurts. I vaguely wonder if the makeshift bandage will vanish when the room does, but I find we're not in the room anymore.

"Gaven, I'm sorry."

" SHOULD be." I hiss. Bandage still here. "That was my last shot. Gun's useless now." I take a few more deep breaths. "Look. Killing yourself wouldn't help things. Just makes another dead person. And it's what they want. If you kill yourself, you're gone. You can't make up for what you did. You can't atone, and the Shadows get deeper. Do you want that?”

He shakes his head.

“Good. Clean the Shadows out of yourself first. And find me some Dragon-taken ICE." I'm rambling. Do I believe anything I'm saying? I don't know. It sounds good, though. Nice and heroic. He seems a bit more determined now. Good. I get to tell Naros to fuck off at least once more.

After a few more minutes of rest, I begin to feel more like myself. My hand hurts, but thankfully I don't seem to be crippled. I stand. "Well, Eric, I think we've dawdled enough." I say. "Let's find our guide and get out of these tunnels." He nods. He seems livelier.

We pick our way back out of the steam-filled tunnel, back towards the lava flow. The light of the daggers is much brighter now. We pass from the tunnel back into the cavern.

"I wonder where the goblin got to." Eric muses.

I look around...ah. THERE he is! "HEY! You little prick!" I shout, and run after him. My hand aches, so I cradle it against my side as I run. No pain will stop me, though. Eric follows behind. The Redcap's fast for such a tiny creature. I grab a rock with my off hand and chuck it at his legs. THWAP! He squeals. It slows him down enough for us to catch up. "You led us into a trap, you spawn of a whore." I hiss. "You're going to pay for that."

We've reached a ledge overlooking the lava. That would be a nice place to drop the little fetcher to his doom. I grab at him, and he bites. OW! "Tommy not fooled by Gravymourn!" It cackles. "Tommy knows REAL shadowlords. Like The Silver Lord, who will make you dance dead-waltz!"

"Yeah, well, the Silver Lord isn't here to save you NOW. Die in pain, spawn!" I snarl as I kick at it.

"Ooo! Manny-man so slow!" It giggles as it dodges away.

"Gaven!" Eric shouts. I look up, and hear the sound of bootfalls. SCAT! Bullyboys! How did they find us? The Redcap is grinning ear-to-ear.

"The Silver Lord's servants come for Manny-Man!" It sings. "Yer gonna gets yer face peeled off!"


The Bullyboys rush from the tunnels. They've all got truncheons and clubs ready. This was an ambush...they come from all sides. “Here you are!” one of the bullyboys chortles. “Led us all a merry chase, didn't ye? Well, thanks to our tiny friend here that's over now.”

He points to the Redcap, who shows a toothy grin as it eyes us. Filthy little bootlicker. It giggles at me. "You gonna die now, manny-man! Tommy iz good powrie. Bring manny-men to servants of the Silver Lord, who keeps powrie all well fed.”

Well that explains something. This "Silver Lord," probably Lord Dythanus, must be protecting the the goblins from the rest of the city watch. They WORK for him! Nice set up. He gets toadies and they get to hunt the city freely at night. No wonder the rest of the watch thought they were rumors.

I see Broke-Nose leering at me. “What's the matter? Got no clever words to save you now? All out of tricks?”

“Kroovy-head manny-man calls fire from sky!” The redcap points at me. “Watch close-close!” Well, fuck you too, little buddy. There's no fireglass to spark anyway. And I doubt they'd be as easily cowed by a few sparks as the Redcaps. Looks like we'll have to fight.

Eric stands at my back, sword ready. “Fancy a little scrap, Gaven?” he sounds way too cheerful. It's kinda scary. At least he's not moping. My hand hurts too much to use. Going to have to use my off-hand to grip my dagger. Awkward, but better than nothing.

"Sure. I need exercise. I'll take the ugly one." I quip.

Eric chuckles. "Rather spoiled for choices there, aren't you?"

"Seems that way."

The leader of the bullyboys narrows his eyes. “Enough of this. We've wasted a whole night chasing you down already. Take them!” They charge.

Back to back, Eric and I brace ourselves. Broke-Nose comes straight after me. I figured he would. He didn't seem too bright. He's smiling.

“Well now, wha--gak!” I start to speak, but the bastard jabs me in the throat with his truncheon.

“No talking for you!”

Alrighty then. I stomp on his foot, hard. Bones in his toes crack and he lets out an unholy shriek before I finish my kick, ringing his family bells. Down he goes, gasping for air. Beside me, Eric trips one of the bullyboys, who gets close enough to me that I can strike. I do.

The fireglass dagger flickers in the light of the lava pit. The bullyboy grunts as I tear through his heavy shirt and tag his side. Broke-nose is still sobbing on the ground, but there are four others, plus the goblin, who flits around us looking for an opening.

The leader moves in. I hear the air sing around his club as he swings at me. I panic, and try to block it with my burned hand. Bad move! I grunt in pain. My whole arm hurts. Great. Eric yelps as a pair of bullyboys thwack him with billy clubs. He's still standing, though.

Broke-Nose crawls to his knees and jabs his truncheon at me like a sword. What an idiot. I kick the club out of his hand. Then I run at him. He yelps as I plant a foot on his shoulder to leap over his head. I land and whip off my cap.

“Pay in Kroovy.” I hiss as I stab. He shrieks. Blood pours out his back. His breath rattles...I must have punctured a lung. I catch blood in my cap as he collapses. Scratch one bullyboy. I turn to the Redcap. “Now you get yours, traitor. It's time YOU did the dead-waltz.” Its eyes boggle, and it stares slack-jawed at me.

Uh-oh. Eric's not doing well. The leader's got his attention on me, but the other three are taking turns batting him around. Not good! “This would be a fine end.” He mutters as they surround him. “But it will not be mine today! I will make you pay for every bruise and blow!"

His pep talk seems to have helped him. He stands tall, then leaps at them, furiously slashing at them while leaving an opening for me. I slip back towards him, and we're back to back again. The leader steps up to me. “Fall down like a good boy!” he snarls as he swings. Miss!

The Redcap seems to have gotten its courage back. It darts in and tries to bite me again. OUCH! Filthy little spawn! I hope it's not rabid. I shake him around, trying to get it off. I struggle closer to the lava pit as I whip it back and forth. It begins to gnaw. OW! OW! OW! We dance around for a bit. The goblin clings like ivy as it gnaws me. I manage to pry it off...It drops, and teeters on the ledge. So I kick it, hard. The Redcap goes squealing into space, face frozen in numb shock before it vanishes into the lava pool below. I smile.

My joy is short-lived. The leader takes advantage of me dancing with Happy goblin Boy to sneak up behind me and whack me in the head.

Ooo. Stars. Pretty.

Then everything goes black.

The Tale of The Exile--The Second Night: Though the Belly of Miir (Part 8)

Part 8: You Make Your Own Hell

We creep along a ledge overlooking the lava flow. It's a hundred feet below us, but I could cook a ham on the stones in this heat.

"We're going the wrong way." Eric remarks.

"I think I've figured that out, thank you." I snap back. “What went wrong?”

"Maybe its lost."


"This way!" our guide chirps. "Nearly there!" It seems far too eager about this.

"This is a trap." I mutter. Eric pulls his sword, winces. That gash in his side must hurt. I'm surprised I'm not in much pain. I was nearly killed several times last night, you'd think I'd feel it.

I hear a rushing noise. It reminds me of the fall I went over.

That's odd...the ceiling is filled with clouds curling around stalactites. We wander along the ledge overlooking The Boiling Belly for a while. It's breathtaking. In the distance, I see a stream flow into the lava. Steam billows.

In the back of my mind, I marvel at the system. Dirty water from the sewer flows into the lava, turns to steam, all contaminants gone. The steam must then flow back into the tunnels, cool, and become clean water again.

This is what I picture The Dragon's Belly looking like. Fire, dark stone, fog...all it needs is some demons poking at sinners in the lava pool below.

But that's only in the back of my brain. The fore of my mind is wondering if I will ever see the sun again. The Redcap is leading us deeper. It giggles and jabbers, claiming soon we will reach the surface, but each route we take heads closer to the lava. Closer to danger. To The Belly. There's a gleam in this goblin's eye that hints at mischief. I'm almost certain it didn't buy my Shadow Lord act.

It turns from the ledge we've been walking down, into another tunnel, one filled with the steam fog that have been making those odd clouds. I like nothing about this. Oh Dragondung. This tunnel is DARK. The light behind us is rapidly fading, and our daggers barely gleam. This can only mean The Shadows are near.

"Eric, we need to get out of's a trap! That git of a three-legged goat sold us out!"

Eric is unnervingly quiet. I reach for his arm, seeking out his figure in the gloom. I grab a cloak. The figure turns. It's not Eric.

"I am touched by your concern, Gaven." The figure speaks. "But there's no need to get so attached to me. People would think it unseemly."

"Naros." He turns, smiles. I hear the sliver chain clinking, back away, hold the dagger ready. "Naros, you spawn of a whore. I should gut you."

"Ah, but then you would be without your benefactor, in a situation where you really should have someone watching out for you." he purrs.

"What. Do. You. Want?" I hiss. So not in the mood for his games.

"To remind you of our bargain, of course. The time nears. The Shadows come."

"I don't think I made myself clear last time. Boil in The Belly, Naros. And hey, what luck! There's a Belly for you to boil in, back that way.”

He laughs as if I'd told him a joke. "Ah! A fine observation. But you're wrong, Gaven. Hell isn't a pit of fire in the bowels of the world. You make your own Hell, constructed of all your thoughts and misdeeds, with your conscience as the demon that torments you." Poetic. "Your chance to avoid the attentions of your own, personal, tailored Hell rests in what you do in the next few minutes. You have a choice. And it is such an easy choice, Gaven! Elementary. So fitting for the person you have been to this point. When the time comes, do...nothing.”

I spit in his face. At least, I spit in his general direction...he's somehow moved farther away from me while not seeming to move at all.

"Ah. Still the petulant child, moved to spite and rebellion against a supposed oppressor. You may feel differently, once you know all."

"Somehow I doubt that, Naros. Go crawl back into your hole." I spit again. He bows mockingly, then seems to vanish in the fog. I'm alone.

Eric. I have to help Eric. Oh, by God and the Dragon, I hope I'm not too late.

I hustle. Curse this darkness! Curse this steam! Curse Naros and all the Shadows! Curse this chair I just tripped over! Wait...Chair? Here? I pick myself up and try to catch my bearings. Yes. This is certainly a wooden chair I tripped over. On a tile floor, not uneven stone. Wha?

I Look around...oh, no. I'm surrounded by walls of brick, covered by tapestries. There's a window to the side, a desk, a bed.

And no door.

The Shadows have brought me back to the Offering Room I robbed last night. Where all my troubles began.

I'm not alone this time. Eric's here too. He's hunched over the bed, sobbing. On the bed is a still female form dressed in white. Jessamine.

"So. This explains it all, then." I say, as calmly as I can. I don't know what to feel right now. Relief? Anger? Joy? Hollow sorrow? "You're her father. You tried to buy your way out of your debt to Dythanus. You offered her to the Shadows." Oh. It's anger I'm feeling now.

He doesn't say anything. He just sobs harder. I'm shaking. I'm furious. Jessamine is moving...Oh scat, she's moving! I watch as Jessamine comes awake, then slowly looks around, confused. I watch horror bloom on her face.

Eric reaches for her. His hand passes through. She's not really here, after all. This is just an illusion. An image of the last moments of her life. Now she's beginning to panic. She's tearing through the room, pulling tapestries from the wall, looking for a door she won't find. She looks at the desk, reads the note. She collapses in the chair and cries. Then she begins looking through the desk. She opens a drawer. The Fireglass dagger gleams as she removes it. It sparkles in the candle light. She points it at her breast, hesitates. Points again. Stabs.

There is silence as she collapses, grasping around in pain. I wonder why I didn't notice all the blood on the floor when I was here before.

Eric has his head buried in his hands. "No, you bastard." I hiss. "Watch. Watch what you put her through. This horror show isn't over yet."

Slowly, Jessamine's limbs begin to jerk and twitch. This would be the Other, I think. Her body moves like a puppet with tangled strings. She stands. Her hollow, empty eyes coldly survey the room. She looks at the dagger, curses, and shoves it back into the desk, locking it. She pulls one of the tapestries down from the wall and covers the blood on the floor, trying to make it look as if she was never there. Then she hops out of the window. The room is empty, except for Eric and I.

"Did you see what you did, Eric?" I snarl. I pull out the pistol. "You set her in this room. You scared her into killing herself, leaving a host open for that THING to crawl inside her." I raise the gun. "I met it. It's a monster, Eric, and it has your daughter's face. Sometimes it thinks it IS her. But not for long."

And I let it escape Miir. Boil me. I'm just as much to blame here as Eric. I knew what it was, and yet I helped it get away. The gun dips down.

"Do it." he says. "Oh, by the Shadows and Saints, Gaven, DO IT. Pull the trigger!" he looks at me, tears streaming down his face. "Please..." I look at him. Beaten. Defeated. He's been running from this all night. It's weighed him down.

"What did you think was going to happen, anyway?" I say. "Shadows come, shadows go, and suddenly all your debts are paid? Is that it?"

"You don't understand..." he mutters.

"Well, then make me." The gun shakes as I try to keep from raising it and blowing his face off.

"It''s just a ritual. You put something precious in the Offering Room, giving it to the Shadows. Symbolically. Not literally. It's a test, you see. To prove you're willing to sacrifice what you have to to change your luck. Nothing is supposed to happen! Sure, you hear tales of things vanishing forever from Offering Rooms, but--but those are just stories! Tales to frighten the little ones!"

"That didn't look like nothing to me, Eric." I say. "I met the guy coming to check out your offer. He wasn't pleased that she was gone. You never believed The Shadows were real before last night, did you? You thought it was all some religious metaphor for sin and penance." He begins to weep again. And I don't have the heart to shoot. I lower the gun. Really, what else can I do? I thought the same thing.

I have no idea what to do now, so I sit in the chair. I watch as he tries to pull himself together. It's hard to watch, so instead I think. It occurs to me that The Shadows got what they wanted. They took his precious thing away. Wasn't he supposed to get something in return? In every tale with this sort of twisted wish, the wisher gets the thing they wished for, even if what they get isn't worth what they lost.

But the Bullyboys are still after Eric. His debt wasn't squared. The twisted wish took but didn't give. Something went wrong. What, though? Naros said I was responsible for his debt to The Shadows...A cold chill runs through me. I thought he meant that because Eric helped me...

But Eric was on the run before he unlocked my cell. And I was the one who helped Jessamine escape last night. Oh fuck! I did this! I didn't give Jessamine to Naros. The Offering was never accepted--the Other was a rogue trying to escape and had a convenient vessel to use.

"Everything is bound by rules here..."

Maybe Eric was right and nothing was supposed to happen. Naros was just to inspect the offer, see Eric is a good Miirian, and reward him. But Jessamine kills herself because she's just a teenage girl and doesn't know it's just superstition. So The Other sees an opportunity. The Other skinrides her, and then I get released and rob the room. Naros finds me and blames me for everything. He tells me to fix it. I help her escape, and now Eric has to pay for it. Dragon take you, Shadows.

I stand up. "Look. It's not the end of the world. It's like you said before, right? We shouldn't turn away from tests, no matter how-" Uh-oh. That was the WRONG thing to say. His face turns this ugly purple color, he screams, and the world goes spinning as the punch lands. The gun clatters out of my hand. It doesn't remain on the floor long. Eric scoops it up and I'm faced with my own loaded weapon. dung.

Perhaps I'll get lucky, and if he tries to shoot me the gun will jam or explode or some other Dragon-taken thing. Not counting on that. "Eric..."

"Shut up!" He yells. Tears still stream down his face. "I-I can't take this, Gaven!" The gun moves away from my head...and towards his own. "I gave up my own child to demons...I don't...I don't deserve..."

This is bad. If I don't do something, he's going to pull that trigger. He said the Shadows came from the dark thoughts of men. His dark thoughts are catching up with him. The Shadows will claim him.

"Eric." I stand, slowly. "This is foolishness! Put it down..."

I don't know if I can talk him down. I'm not entirely sure I want to, either...I happen to agree he's done a horrible thing. It would be so easy just to stand aside, let him go...but I'm partly to blame for the mess he's in. But I'm not the one who locked a scared girl up in a room that all tradition claims is a bad place to be. I didn't push the dagger in. He didn't push the dagger in, either. But he should of known better. But there's no way this is a normal situation.

But! But! But!

He closes his eyes. Oh God, he's going to...I don't think. I simply leap at him, grabbing wildly. We collide...the gun fires...


The Tale of The Exile--The Second Night: Though the Belly of Miir (Part 7)

Part 7: The Nest

There are at least a dozen vague forms dancing by the dim light produced by our daggers. Probably more. But we're not surrounded. Yet.

Giggling, gibbering, jabbering...tiny death, all around us. Again! No, don't panic, don't panic, don't panic. Eric waves his sword at them. I do a quick inventory as we slowly back towards the gap behind us. I have a glowing dagger, a pistol with one shot, gold coins, 12 bullets. And a horn full of gunpowder. If I had a way of sparking it, I could do something. But I have no...wait. Yes, I have flint. It's in the gun.

Their voices blend into each other. "We's so mighty, mighty teeth..."

"Nip and rip and nip and tear..."


They're certainly taking their time. They can afford to. Even if we make it to the gap, they know these tunnels better. Running won't get us far.

"Back, devils!" Eric shouts. He stabs with a flourish at one of the goblins, who laughs as it dodges away. Where did he learn to fight? Huh. More clever than I thought. The sweep made sure the goblin couldn't strike him effectively and opens up a path to the gap. Clever. I take the opportunity.

"Eric! I have a plan! Keep them back for a bit!" I shout. He nods and moves between me and the goblins. I get working. I pull the pistol, work the flint from the hammer, and unscrew the top of the powder horn. I pack in all the bullets into the horn.

The goblins leap. Only three of them can get at him...lucky. He strikes one away, dodges another, but a third manages to spear his side. Still lucky. It's only a flesh wound. But these are bad odds. Oh, please let the saint still be watching over us...Eric leaps at them. Scat!

I can see he's giving me another chance to get further away. He cleaves into one of the goblins. It squeals as the blade sinks in its face. "For Miir! Flee black to the Shadows you came from, curs!" he shouts. It's oddly heartening, but he can't fight them all by himself.

I unscrew the cap where the powder pours out. This is awkward. I aim the huge end of the horn, the one packed with powder and shot. I aim.

"You are going to want to duck!" I shout.

I hold the only steel I have, the frizzan of the pistol, next to the small end of the powderhorn. Holding the pan closed so the gun doesn't fire in my hands, I strike. And strike. And strike. And strike. And...


Ow. Ow. Ow. I do not recommend holding a half-full powder horn and lighting one end. The force of the blast knocks me ass over teakettle. Eric heeded me. He sprawled on the ground. The goblins, however, are caught completely by surprise at the ball of fire and lead and light.

I'm lucky I wasn't blinded by the flash. I'm lucky the Dragon-taken thing didn't explode into a million fragments and shred me to bits. But the goblins are squealing in pain and surprise. Some have dropped and may be dead.

Time to go! I stand, grab my things together, nudge Eric, and run forward. TOWARDS the goblins. Past the goblins. Deeper into the tunnel. I hear Eric behind me.

"Where are we going?" Eric asks. He's calm. He must think I'm insane. I wonder myself. But we need to keep moving.

And there's warmth ahead. Warmth means heat and light. Which means fire, or an exit. You don't light fires underground unless you want to poison yourself with smoke. Or you have a way of venting it. I want out of here. I want out of these caves. I'll take my chances in the city above.

"We're leaving. There has to be an exit nearby--I can feel warmth in these tunnels. They must have a big fire going, and venting the smoke somewhere."

"Good thinking." He says. "One problem. These are volcanic tunnels. It could be a lava flow."

Dragon take it!

I hear scrabbling and cursing behind us. Well, too late to go back now. We run through the tunnel. It open into a wide cavern. There's a seam of fireglass in the ceiling, illuminating a collection of rude huts. A village. goblin women hold children close as we run. This just keeps getting better and better. The goblin women don't seem to be rushing to pick up spears, but I'd rather keep moving anyway.

We pass by the stone huts and surprised goblins, but I see some Redcaps rushing to catch up with us. Ahead, a few Redcaps wave spears at us. goblins behind us, goblins up ahead...and here I am, stuck in the middle with Eric.

"Got any bright ideas?" I mutter to him. He looks up.

"Manny-Man made a dumb move, coming into powrie's home." One of the goblins giggles as he and his buddies advance. "Soon do de dead waltz!"

"Gaven, take this." Eric mumbles. He hands his sword to me. What am I going to do with this? I've never had sword training! I prefer knives. "Say something impressive, then strike the sword against the ceiling." He says. Has he gone insane? "Trust me! Do what you do best!"

"FOOLS!" I boom in my best stage voice. What in the boil am I doing? "I AM GAVEN MORREN, LORD OF FIRE AND SHADOWS! BOW BEFORE MEEEEEE!”

The roof is just high enough to reach if I leap, so I jump and whack at the roof of the cave. A shower of sparks flies as I scrape the fireglass. The goblins immediately begin to cower and bow. Which is good, because I'm utterly shocked by the rain of sparks. I'm glad my cloak's wet.

A babble of voices erupts."Don't hurt poor powrie, Lord Gravymourn!"

"No! No! The Shadow Lords! We all do de dead waltz!"


I whip off the bloody cap and hold it theatrically at the closest one. "Pay for your trespass against me!" I yell. "Pay in kroovy!" Why? I don't know. It just seemed like the right thing to say. The Redcap jams his spear into his hand and drips blood into the cap. Ew. "Now, you will let us pass, and I will forget this insolence!" I intone. This is fun. I point to one of the redcaps. "You! Lead us to the exit! I wish to see the stars!"

"Yes shadowlord sir! Anything! Anything!" it grovels. It starts moving away and we follow.

"That was impressive." Eric grunts. I try. We put a nice bit of distance between us and the village. Eric stops to bind his wound. I let our guide go on ahead so I can talk to him.

"That was clever. I didn't know fireglass would spark on steel like that." I fiddle with the gun, replacing the flint. I have one shot left.

"It's one of the first things the tribes who settled Miir used it for. Flint is more common, but fireglass seems to set iron off better."

"Well, you saved our bacon. I guess I owe you." Though I wish I'd known that before. I could have saved us some time with the powder bomb if I'd known that.

"Hardly.” he scoffs. “You saved me from the Bullyboys with your scare before. We're even."

"What made you think of trying that?"

"That fireball you shot before. Also, with that nasty hat you wear you kind of look like a big Redcap. I figured you might have them thinking the same.”

Our guide comes back. "This way! hurry! Way to outside!" it jabbers. I shrug and follow it. The air is getting warmer, and there's a glow. Is it dawn already? I didn't think we were down here that long. We leave the tunnel, and I gasp.

There's no sun ahead. Only lava.

Information on Remixing and Permissions to use this work

Creative Commons License
The Tale of Gaven Morren--The First Night: Into The Shadows by Anson Brehmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Creative Commons License
The Tale of Gaven Morren--The Second Night: Through the Belly of Miir by Anson Brehmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Tale of The Exile--The Second Night: Though the Belly of Miir (Part 6)

Part 6: Vermin

Running through slimy tunnels slick with mildew, trying to escape thugs with truncheons. Good times. We can't keep this up forever.

"Eric! You go on ahead!" I call as we dart down a tunnel.

"Why?" He asks.

"We need a distraction. I'm going to go provide one."

I saunter out of the tunnel he ducked down and wait. The Bullyboys round the bend. Leading them is my friend with the broken nose. Excellent.

"It's about time you showed up." I say glibly. "I've been waiting for you." They look confused.

"In the name of House..." Broke Nose begins.

I don't let him finish. Instead, I kick him in the knee. He lets out a yelp that could wake the dead. The others stop and gape at me. Good.

"Now watch him, 'cause this is a very dangerous man." I say before they can do anything. "You may not know it, but this man's a spy! He's an agent of House Von Jeggett, and he's been sent to infiltrate Lord Dythanus's protection rings."

He's still groaning on the ground. They aren't looking at him though. They're looking and listening to me. I have no idea what I'm talking about, but that's no reason to stop.

"Yeah, he's a friend of those brutish monkey thugs. Why, I bet he's got the House Von Jeggett colors hoisted up in his offering room. He's a snake in the grass! I tell you, guys, he may look dumb but that's just a disguise. He's a mastermind in the ways of espionage."

They all start looking at him, really suspiciously. He starts bubbling out a protest, but I don't stick around to hear what it is. Bullyboys may be dumb, but soon they'll figure out I was spinning a load of dragondung. I'd best keep moving, hope I don't run out of luck. I make tracks for a bit, and then I see Eric standing at a junction.

"We need to keep moving!" I shout.

"There's nowhere to go." he replies.

What? Scat! he's not standing at a junction--he's standing at the lip of a chasm. I can hear water falling somewhere below. I look down. Not enough light to see the bottom. Wonderful. But hey, I have rope. I pull it out and tie a rock. Eric stares wistfully over the edge. I have about thirty feet of rope to work with. Can't see the bottom, but from the sound of the water, at least there is one. I'd rather not go flying again, so I tie the end of the rope around me. I shake Eric from his reverie.

"Down we go!" I'm way too cheerful.

I stow my dagger and Eric does the same. He grabs on to my back. I would've preferred Jessamine. Eric's much heavier than she was. And not nearly as pretty. We slide down the wall. With any luck, the Bullyboys won't see the rope, and think we went another way.

I hear footsteps. Moment of truth. They stop at the ledge. I hold my breath and try to think silent thoughts. Now is the time for the saint we paid off to be watching over us.

"Snuff and spite! We missed them!" One curses. "I want them found, Chevin. I want them to BLEED for all this trouble they've put us through!"

"Wait, Cob. I know you're mad about the knee..."

"Rut the knee! The Exile nearly turned you against me! He broke my rutting NOSE!"

"Lord Dythanus wants them alive." another voice says. Sounds like the leader. "And unharmed. You can get your turn after he's seen them."

"Lord Dythanus can..." The voice trails away, followed by a cry of alarm. There's a squeaking sound.

"Oh, RATS!" Someone shouts. Then there's the sound of running. It's heading away. I'd breathe a sigh of relief, but I'm not sure there's anything to be relived about. I climb back up the's not that easy with an armed guard hanging on my back, but at least he can keep still. I peek over the edge, and stare into a pair of beady eyes.

Well that's certainly a rodent of an unusual size.

I've seen dogs smaller than the rat that's looking me in the face right now. No wonder the bullyboys ran. I'd run, too. Can't run right now, though. And I'd rather not have it gnaw at my face. I draw the pistol and aim. Here goes nothing. I squeeze the trigger. There's a flash in the pan, and a loud bang...and nothing. The gun misfired. At least the rat was spooked. And the flash DID do something else. It lit up a couple dozen pairs of eyes. We're surrounded. Time to go back down the chasm. Quickly! I start sliding down as fast as I can.

In Calisapas, rats are considered to be a nutritious, if unpalatable, food source. Rats THIS big, however, might consider us the meal. The rat I spooked before is starting to sniff at the rope. Wonderful. I shake the rope to try and startle it, but we start swinging wildly. So instead I concentrate on getting us down. Eric is remaining blessedly quiet...He's holding on for dear life, not screaming in my ear.

We are running out of rope, and I have no idea how close to the bottom we are. The rats are growing is climbing down towards us. I stab at it, the fireglass shimmering in the gloom. It squeals, mostly in annoyance, as it dodges my clumsy strikes. Boil it! I swing again.

Fighting from a swinging rope while trying to hold on AND balance a 13 stone man on my back is not quite as easy as it sounds. I miss again. So I bounce against the chasm wall, and pull the rope taut, before letting out a little more. Eric moans in fright, but the rat drops off. I hear a SPLOOSH! down underneath us. Not that far, really. Good to know. Even less rope remains. Two more rats get bold and climb down. Scat. End of the line. No more rope, and no bottom yet. I snap the rope taut again. These rats cling better. I'd hoped to avoid this...

"Hey Eric!" I say, as cheerfully as I can. "Ever wanted to fly?"

"Huh?" He whimpers.

"Well, now's a good time to learn." I cut the rope.

Thankfully, it's only twenty feet to the ground, the last six of which is under water. Reeking, filthy sewer water, but water nonetheless. I struggle to the surface. I hear Eric sputtering and thrashing nearby, and pull his head above water. I hear him gasp--I doubt he can swim.

“What now?" he shouts. I can barely hear him. The sound of rushing water drowns a lot of noises out. Not a great place to practice your breaststroke on a good day. There's a strong current. Not, thankfully, rapids, but still tricky to swim.

"We follow the current!" I shout back. "Until we can fine solid ground!" I think he nods...the fireglass is very dim right now. Scat. Dim fireglass tends to mean there are things around that its magic doesn't like. Things connected to The Shadows. Things that mess with me.

I have a bit of rope left, so I tie part of it to Eric. I'd rather he not go floating off without me. He's been out of his element all night. Does that mean that I'm in mine? By the Dragon, I hope not. I'm not the least bit comfortable considering The Shadows as "My element".

We swim for about half an hour, I think. It's hard to tell how long we've been on the move without stars or sky. Finally, we find dry land. Well, dry-ish. Enough for us to rest, ring out cloaks and shirts, and have a bite to eat. Too bad we have no food. My stomach rumbles.

Instead of eating, I mess with the pistol. I clean out the wet powder, pack it again, and refill the pan before I cock it and put it away. Maybe now It will actually fire when I want it to. I'd prefer a bow to this contraption. I'd ditch it if it weren't worth a small fortune.

We seem to be safe for the moment, but my dagger is still alarmingly dim. Not comforting. I wonder what's next in this gallery of horrors. Not going to dwell on that. "So. Here we are. What now?" I ask instead.

"We keep moving." He says. "Shadows below, what else CAN we do?"

"We can sit and have a nice chat about who this Lord Dythanus is, what he wants with you, and, more importantly, what he wants with me."

"I have no earthly idea what he'd want with you." he mutters darkly. "But he wants coin from me. A large amount of coin, spent frivolously. Failing that he wanted my daughter to work the debt off in one of his brothels." He spits. "She's beyond his reach now. Thus, the bullyboys."

I blink. I've heard this story before, but from the other side. No. No, it can't be related.

"I would think a Noble wouldn't stoop to running something as base as a whorehouse." I say.

Eric scoffs. "You'd be right, normally. Each of the Noble Houses of Miir controls one of the major trade guilds. House Dythanus is fairly new in the city--there wasn't much left. They came in, then ran all the independent pawnshops, gambling dens, bliss houses, and brothels out of business. It wasn't hard. They grew too rich to ignore. They call themselves purveyors of entertainment to sound legitimate, but everyone knows what they really do."

He's certainly forthcoming about this. "And The Shadows fit in how?" I ask. He doesn't reply. Great. So much for that. Though I wonder...No. It's not relevant. I've heard this kind of story a hundred times. Why, it was only last night...stop that! It's not related! But there's a chill in my spine that has nothing to do with the fact that we're underground and I'm all wet. And it's not going away.

Along with that chill is anger. Eric, you seem to be a good person. Loyal, religious (ok, that's a bit irritating), and calm in a crisis. But if I find out you were responsible for Jessamine being locked in that offering room last night as a bribe for The Shadows?

I won't wait for them to come for you. I will kill you myself.

I wonder if Naros is behind this. He seemed confidant that I'd do what he told me to. Dragon take him. Swallow him to the Belly.

This can't be coincidence. Eric said the Shadows were in people's hearts. He sounded very sure of that. Could it be he's running from himself? From his guilt? Is that why he didn't draw his sword against the bullyboys before? What was going through his mind as he looked over the chasm? Suicide?

Great. Wonderful. Fantastic. Do I try and save him from himself? Should I even try? I don't know.

He shakes me. "We should keep moving. We're not getting any closer to the mountains by staying here. When we get there, we will be free." Somehow I doubt that, but I say nothing. We continue on for at least an hour. The air is getting warmer. Good. I'm still wet and cold.

The stone has changed, too. We've finally reached areas that aren't lined in granite. It's bare cavern now, tricky to navigate. Don't slip. We pass by a head on a pike. I stop. Blink. Look at it again. Yup. It's a skull. On a spear, stuck into the rock.

"Eric...we're in trouble."

He turns, looking quizzical. Then he sees the friendly skull grinning at us. His mouth makes a little "o" of shock. "Who would...?"

"Redcaps. I think we've found their nest." I mutter darkly. The very last thing I want to do is fight a pack of cannibal goblin children on slippery rocks in tunnels they know much better than me. If we are very lucky, they're out hunting through Miir, taking advantage of the night.

"What say we go back the way we came?" I say.

"AW, but manny-man, where be de fun in dat?" I hear a giggle off in the darkness around us. "Don't manny-man want to play wit da powrie?"


Friday, May 8, 2009

The Tale of The Exile--The Second Night: Though the Belly of Miir (Part 5)

Part 5: There's No Place Like Home

The light from the fireglass in the wall is dimming. So is the light from my dagger.

"Oh, what now?" I grunt, alarmed.

"It's midnight." Eric whispers. He's terrified. "The Shadows are free to roam."

Great. I was starting to enjoy not dealing with weird scat. I'm glad the seam of fireglass continues for a while. I'm less pleased that we've gone back to the sludgy part of the sewers. My poor nose. The corridor heads away down into the bleakness. Yay. This section has turned into a twisty little maze. It's all coming back. Right, left--and the corridor dead-ends at a building. Wooden frame, long, and on stilts, the sort you see everywhere near the docks in Calisapas.

Except we're about a thousand miles from the docks of Calisapas. We're in Miir. In a sewer. Underground. I stare dumbly at it.

“Eric? What do you make of this?”

He's stopped, too. I look back at him--he's more confused than I am. Not surprised--wood is a luxury in Miir. Most houses here are stone. So what is a Calisapan longhouse doing wedged into a sewer? I turn...and the tunnel is gone, replaced by more houses.

This must be the Shadows at work. I know we're still underground, but to all appearances we've wandered onto a street in my home city. I wonder if I should be worried that they seem to be getting creative in their efforts to screw with me. This place looks almost like—no.

"You know, this is strange and unnerving." I say to Eric, as nonchalantly as I can. "Why don't we turn back and get out of here?" He nods, though he's more fascinated by the architecture than he is attentive. At least he's not asking awkward questions. Maybe we can...

...and there it is. A large building squats in front of us. On the sign: "Lord Padrig's Home for Foundling Children." Dragon take it all. It's the home I've tried to avoid, ever since the last time I set eyes on it at the tender age of fourteen. Did a good job of that, till now.

"What's wrong, Gaven? Why have we stopped?" Eric still has his blade out. He's not looking at things in wonder anymore.

I don't have anything to fear from this place. It's just a building. It's not like Jacky Nimblewright is going to jump out at me.

"What is this place, Gaven?" Eric asks. There are too many answers to that question.

"I grew up here." I mutter. "Let's leave."

"It's a test. The Shadows are showing us this for a reason, Gaven." Eric says. "We should not turn away from lessons, no matter how painful."

I glare at him. "Yes! Let's relive the more painful and soulcrushing years of my life! It'll be fun!" I snap. "Dragon take that. We go another way."

"What are you running from, Gaven? What are you afraid to face?" Eric asks. I punch him hard in the face. He collapses.

"You know what? SCREW you, Eric! Y-you don't know me! You know NOTHING about this! And really, what right do you have to pry!? You want to know what lesson this place has? We lean that life sucks and people are bastards! And you could have learned that anywhere! And YOU! You keep being evasive about whatever this 'debt' to the Shadows is. What gives you the right to pry!?" I'm ranting. I never rant. I stalk off. He doesn't get up...I think he's still shocked. I need to be away from here. I need out of this mockery.

I've let the memory of Jack Nimblewright get to me. I shouldn't. This is just a trick, like the magic maze from last night. It's not real.

"Does the weight of your memories drag you down?" I hear. I also hear a clinking silver chain, and smell rose perfume. No. Not...

"Naros. I'm guessing this is your handiwork, then? It seems your style." I grumble. I try not to look at the pale nobleman. "I didn't call you."

"Am I not free to come and go where I wish?" he asks. I don't know. I didn't think so. I still don't know what sort of powers he wields. "You needn't worry about me. I am not your tormentor tonight. I'm merely here to inspect my investment. Ensure you don't renege our deal."

"Yeah, maybe you weren't watching earlier." I scoff. "I thought I made my intentions quite clear with the bullyboys." Scat. He's smirking.

"Those guards were not there to collect the debt your companion owes to us. They're after mere coin. He owes us far more." I hate his smirk.

"Yeah. What is this debt, anyway? He hasn't been very forthcoming about that. You Miirians are a tight-lipped bunch." I grunt. I hate him.

"No, I don't suppose he would have been, would he?" Naros says. "And I can't really blame him, since you are the cause of his problems."

"Care to explain that?" I say.

"It's simple, really. I told you once before--the Shadows despise being stolen from."

Great. Because Eric decided to try to help me, the Shadows have apparently turned their rage on him. Nice guilt trip. "Go away, Naros."

"Let me remind you what's at stake. You can alleviate your suffering tremendously if you let The Shadows collect their due." He says. "Just stand aside when the time comes. That's all you have to do. Stand aside." He's swallowed by the darkness. "Stand...aside."

He's gone now, but his voice still echoes in my head. This is all my fault. It's a heavy burden to bear. I hear footsteps. Eric's coming. He turns the corner, past the row of coastal houses. "Gaven?" he says. There's blood on his lip from where I hit him. "Are you here?"

"Yeah. I'm here." I say. I stand up off the stoop, dust myself off, and wander towards him. "Look, I'm sorry that I punched you."

He shrugs. "You were right. I should not have sought to force you to face this test against your will." He looks at me. Boil and damn his soulful face.

I sigh. "Yeah. Look, it's just that I grew up at that foundling home. It wasn't a bad place, actually, until Jacky Nimblewright took over. I was about nine then. He came in when the previous headmaster kicked it. The old guy, Finch, was as close to a father as I've ever had. But Jack was a real piece of work. He pocketed the money the city gave the home for our care, made us virtual slaves to line his pocket. He trained some of us to go put picking pockets or pulling second-story jobs and took the take. And heaven help us if we held out on him. I ran away as soon as I thought I could make it on my own. I haven't seen that place in a dozen years--was hoping for a few decades more."

"Well, it's naught but timber and pitch." Eric says. "There's no one here to harm us now."

Oh really? The Shadows haven't gone anywhere. But we need to get moving, and I suspect that The Shadows won't let us get around this. We head up the steps of the foundling home. I take a deep breath, then open the doors. We step through. The halls are empty. It's just as I remember it. We reach the back door. And just like that, we're back in the sewer tunnels. The buildings are gone as if they'd never been there. Probably never were.

There IS something new, however. The sound of boots. The Bullyboys seem to have tracked us down. Time to get moving. We start to run.