Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monthly Update

Wow. Four posts this month (aside from this one). Three of them are story posts. Two of them were written wholly this month. A redesign of the site's layout. A massive overhaul of the previous chapters, detwitterizing all of them and updating the tags.

I feel good. It's high past time I got back to work, especially since I all but abandoned my story last year. I've been working a lot on revision, but moving the story forward is important. And now it's moving again. I've added something like 5000 words to the story since I started, counting new content and rewrites.

I don't know how many people follow this blog these days. I want to know that there are people reading and enjoying the story. If you see this post, say hey. Post a comment. Let me know how I'm doing.

But even if you don't, I'm going to keep working on this. Let's see if I can finish the Third night this year and get into the Fourth.

If nothing else, I'm going to start committing myself to an update of some kind every month. Might not be story. might be background elements. Might just be some sort of random thoughts. But it's a goal to work towards.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Tale of The Exile -- The Third Night: Welcome To My Nightmare (Part 7)

Part 7: Revolution 9

I notice two things when I wake. I can breathe again, and my neck really hurts. I'm very, very relieved to be breathing. So very relieved I'm not dead. I could even move, if I had a mind to. Of course, I don't really want to as I’m already being moved. My neck and shoulders hurt because someone has my arms and is pulling me across the floor.

“Sodding ash-sucking fires of fate,” comes a growl from above my left shoulder. My clothes slide against the smooth tiles of the floor, slightly warm from the speed. “Of all the cells to pop open in the rumble why'd it have to be this sack of shit?”

“I can't say, Gotz,” says a voice to my right. So two people are hauling me, then. “Maybe it's just that poor luck you complain about all the time. Maybe the Shadows did it to spite you. Punishment for your sins.”

“My sins ain't the ones they should be feedin' on,” says the grumbler. “He killed Cobb. He ought to die a thousand tiny deaths for that. I still can't believe Lord Dythanus won't let me do what's proper and stick the gully bastard.”

Bullyboys. Great. Just what I needed right now. I briefly consider leaping up and knocking them around because I'm still lightheaded and stupid from whatever Aelia did to me, but blessed merciful sanity stops me before the idea gets me killed.

They haven't searched me - I can still feel my pouch of chipped fireglass bits flapping against my leg - but I have no weapons and I ache too much to really want to give attacking them a go. Mostly I just want to sleep. Put this whole night behind me. Refresh my brain and plan things out better without the Dreamlily to mess everything up.

I don't think that's much of an option, though. The Shadows can get at me anywhere. I'm sure Despair hasn't forgotten about me, and The Hangman might be lurking around any corner, ready to make me swing...

If they catch me in an enclosed space, I'm probably done for. And the bullyboys are dragging me right back to where I started.

I let out a sigh slow enough that the bullyboys don't notice I'm awake. As poorly as I'm feeling, I'm going to have to try and escape anyway.

I crack an eye open and do my best to stifle my flinch at the sudden light. I let the eye adjust before carefully opening the other, then wait for that flare to die down as well. I look about as best I can without raising my head. The Bullyboys seem too engrossed in their conversation about how much I deserve to be stabbed to pay much attention to me.

The bullyboy to my left has thick legs shoved into thick boots. He has a long, heavy stride. He's probably the larger of the two. I recognize his voice as the bodyguard who threatened to pull my guts out and feed them to me earlier.

The other one, to my right, has thin legs and soft, well-made shoes. He moves with effort, digging his heels into the ground to heft my weight. I'm guessing he hasn't had to pull much deadweight in his life. He's probably a manservant from his fine shoes. He might be an elf, I can't tell from down here, but he doesn't sound like one. I got the impression from Aelia that all the elves in Miir are nobles, and even a minor lordling wouldn't put up with the way the guard on my left is speaking to him.

“-collecting debtors, chasing escaped Dreamers all over the Lair...this is dog's work, Udo! Kostjak or Chevin should be doing this, not me!”

“Maybe Lord Jereth is giving you a reward for your loyal service by ordering you about personally, Gotz. Or maybe you should consider these last few days the next time you think of playing jack and trump while on duty. Be that as it may-”

Dreamers. Plural. I'm not the only one out of their cell. That means I might have an enemy of my enemy to work with, or at least someone else to cause a distraction to cover an escape. Either way, it's something.

I risk raising my head to catch a glimpse of where we're heading. I catch sight of a stairwell heading down into darkness. This isn't the way I came. There were no stairs I can recall between my cell and the infirmary Aelia patched me up in. If they're taking me to a cell, it's not the one I was stuck in before.

The bullyboys aren't gentle pulling me down the stairs, but I don't wait for them to bang my shins on every step down. As soon as I feel the first drop I tense, drawing my knees in and pushing against the steps while yanking my arms in to break the grips holding me.

It half works. The skinny guy in the poofy clothes screams like a little girl and drops my arm the instant I start thrashing about. The burly one on my left, however, has a grip like a vice. My sudden leap into the unknown unbalances him, and as he tries to keep me from squirming away he takes a step backward. Into empty air. We go tumbling.

We bounce down the stairwell. I feel a dozen steps slap against my spine. We collapse in a heap at the bottom. Somewhere in the tumble the big guy let me go, so I spring to my feet...and instantly regret it as a wave of dizziness crashes over me. I see spots and my stomach lurches, doubling me over. I don't have anything to throw up though so the retch just hurts. By the time my dizziness is gone so is the element of surprise.

The burly bullyoby finds his feet. From up top I hear the patter of coward's feet, so it's just us right now in the gloomy hall. He snorts like a ram and gives me a bloodshot death glare.

“So...Gotz, is it?” I say. “Good name. Fits your smell.” Then I slap his face with my good hand and try to duck back up the stair.

“GRAGH!” he bellows and charges, which is just what I had in mind. Angry fighters are stupid fighters. I duck away from his lurching grabs, sticking my foot out to trip him up as I do. He goes crashing into a heavy metal door and I realize we're in a hallway full of cells. Great. I don't see any way out except the way we just came, and there isn't much for me to work with. It's also hard to move quickly with just one boot on.

So I solve both my problems by stripping off my remaining shoe to use as a weapon.

Gotz gives another inarticulate roar and rushes me again, so I duck him again and start smacking at him with the hardened heel of my makeshift club. I can't tell if I'm doing more than raising welts, but he's certainly not thinking straight enough to get a good grab on me. I spy an open cell door...perhaps I can lure him there, shut him in. Then I can head upstairs and deal with his friend before he brings half the mansion down here.

Another rush. This one silent, determined. I shove my hand into the boot for better leverage and whack the heel across his face, sending him stumbling back. Blood pours out of his nose, and he rubs his jaw. I half expect him to spit a tooth out. He glares at me, but I think he's wised up. I step back towards the open door. He doesn't follow immediately.

“There's nowhere for you to go, Exile.” He says, moving toward me slowly. “Give up now, and I won't have to break you into pieces. Personally, though, I hope you resist and give me the excuse.”

“You and what army?” I say, matching his steps, backing toward the cell. “You aren't so tough when you can't sneak up and brain someone from behind, are you? Just another dumb bullyboy caught without his stick.”

He lunges again, and I dance to the side, but this time he moves with me and I realize he was feinting. His thick hands close on my wrist. He lurches, and I'm raised off my feet and into the opposite wall with a BANG!

“Thieves!” Someone screams from inside the cell. “Killers! Assassins! You'll never get me! I'll cut out your eyes with a spoon!”

Like a spreading plague, the screams spawn other screams, yells, and curses from the cells around us.

“No! Can't stop here! This is bat country!”

“ my broken chair, my wings are broken and so is my hair...”

“Merciful Saints! What are all these goddamn animals?”

“ being naked...”

“...number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine...”

“There's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going...”

“...if you become naked...”

“...the girl! The girl with empty eyes! Follow her!”

“Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is old Mount Morrine a-blowing?”

All the screams and singing and weeping of a dozen Dreamers pouring into the's suffocating. I hardly feel the next couple of blows, so lost am I in the madness, tugging at me like a foul tide, sweeping me away...I roll on my side, sucking back sobs...

I come back to myself after the third punch to my kidney knocks my face into the wall, splitting my lip open. I'm curled on the floor, gasping for air, with the huge bullyboy crouched over me, one hand shoving my head down while the other slams me to paste. I try to kick him in the dangles but he shifts his leg in time to catch my foot against his thigh.

So I do the next best thing I can think of to get out of his hold. I bite his thumb.

His bellows aren't much louder than the racket surrounding us, but he loosens his grip enough for me to wiggle free. My guts ache and I think I'm going to be pissing blood tomorrow but I'm free, scrambling toward the empty cell. I pull myself up on the door. I can still win this. I just need to get him there...

And then he's in my face again, all bloody-faced and wild-eyed, snarling like a street dog, and I swing the door between us to keep him at bay. He doesn't slow down, just uses his momentum to turn the door into a weapon against me, slamming me off my feet. I go skidding across the floor, and he's right behind me as I flop around. He grabs me, hauls me into the air...everything seems to hands clutch at his arms, desperate to get purchase...and then he drives me front first into the stone tiles. I see stars.

By the time the stars clear, he's rolled me onto my back and gathered me up in a painful pin, and he's counting. “...two...THREE.” He begins to laugh. “It's all over, whorespawn.” He twists my arm and I can't help but shriek. “Give me any more trouble and I'll break it off. Got that, cocksucker?”

“YES!” I cry as he twists again. “Please! Anything! Just stop!”

He gives the arm another yank just to hear me squeal again, then drops me out of the pin, grabs my shirt, and heaves me into the open cell. The door clanks shut behind me, and he laughs again as he locks it. The other madmen in the cells along the corridor echo his noise with babbling, cackling, hooting mockery, echoing my shame throughout the hall.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Welcome to the new site design!

I've had a sudden rush of creative energy, so I'm dusting things off and going back in and performing some surgery on the site. Expect changes.

So far, I've got two new chapters of The Third night: Welcome To My Nightmare up, with a third in the works. Yay for new writing!

Along with that, I'm taking a critical eye to the older chapters. I've gone through the first two nights and worked to de-twitterize them. I will probably do much more revision on them, but the part of the story that's getting the most love is the first half of The Third Night, Le Cirque d'Abberations.

I've been heavily revising this section for months, and soon I'm going to post those changes, removing the old versions in the process. I think the new stuff is cleaner, more interesting, and shows off the hallucination bits much better than the previous draft, but I'll let readers (all 6 of you) judge for yourselves when I post them up. I'll give them all new timestamps when they're done and ready for viewing.

I'm seizing this creative burst for as long as I can maintain it. I've been creatively barren for far too long.

The Tale of The Exile -- The Third Night: Welcome To My Nightmare (Part 6)

Part 6: Die, Die My Darling

“Gaven...” Aelia whispers. She can't do much more than that. I have her pinned against the wall with my right arm just under her breasts. I stare into her eyes. Tears are welling up. Her slitted pupils are locked on the blade. “Please...please do not hurt me...”

“They say elves all look alike.” I say. “They say it's difficult to tell them apart. That's dragondung.” She squirms against my arm. “Stop that.” I growl, pressing the blade into her neck, just enough that I'm not quite cutting the skin. She quits moving. “Where was I? Ah, right. Elves don't all look alike, any more than humans do. You said there aren't that many elves in Miir. I buy that. But even with some inbreeding, House Dythanus still has enough members to have one great big extended family. Enough to match the other houses, at least. Am I right?”

“Gaven...” She whispers again.

“That's what I thought. That would mean, what, two hundred elves or so?”

“Yes.” She says. A tear rolls down her cheek. “Gaven, please...”

“So I have to wonder why, with two hundred elves in this mansion, I've been seeing you everywhere I've been. Everywhere. You were there when I was being put back together after my trip through the belly. When I woke you handed me the painkiller. You helped dress me when I was summoned. I threatened to skin you to get my hat back. When I saw that ghost thing, you were the one who came at my screams.”

“That job...” she whispers.

I giggle. It's not funny. Why am I laughing? By the Dragon, why can't I stop?

“I threatened to skin you, Aeila. Why by God and the Dragon would you come within a hundred feet of me after that? You had every reason in the world to just let one of the other nurses deal with me. And yet there you were just after the earthquake. I threatened your life again. I threatened the life of your lord. You could have left while I was busy with the Shadows.”

“I...I did ask let me go...” she says. She's crying freely now.

“Yes you did. You asked me to let you go.” I giggle again. Stop that, Gaven! Stop it now! Oh god, I'm cracking up. “You did. Why? Why ask my permission? Why did you need it?”

“ are dangerous...I wanted to protect...”

“NO! I wanted you around! To protect others from me. You wanted to leave, and I wouldn't let you, so you stayed. You even told me about Lady Sylvia, when I wanted to go and throttle Jereth. An interesting plan. Go tattle to Jereth's mommy. Is she even real, or was that just a wild goose chase, to keep me out of trouble?”

“She is...she is Jereth's mother...he will listen to her...I didn't lie...”

“Didn't lie about that. But you lied about the candlestick. You lied about The Shadows not being able to hurt me. They did hurt me. And they killed you.”

“N-no...that was...delirium...”

“NO! No it wasn't! The Hangman came, wrapped a rope around your neck and dragged you up a wall!”

“Gaven, I am alive. I am! I am right here in front of you...Gaven, please...” she weeps. “Please do not do this...I have only ever tried to help you...”

“And yet, when I wasn't paying attention, when I was cutting my hand to ribbons, there you were. As if nothing had happened. Telling ME nothing happened! You didn't walk up to me, though. I didn't see you walk out of any door. You just appeared. Like a ghost. Like one of the Shadows themselves.”

“Please...please do not pursue...”

“Pursue what, Aelia? Pursue this line of thought? Don't think about The Shadows, because thinking about them gives them power? But what does that mean about you? You've been practically begging me to think of you by name. To trust you. To believe in you. Why would you need me to do that?”

“Gaven, don't hurt me...” she sobs. “It's the delirium that makes you say these things. The delirium!”

“Are you a Shadow, Aelia? That eyeless, pleading ghost I saw that your true form? If I cut you, will you even bleed?”

“Please...” she whispers. Her tears are soaking a tiny patch on my shirt sleeve. She squeezes her eyes shut. “...please don't rape me.”


Revelation kicks me in the gut. I see it all as if looking through the eyes of God above: the girl shoved against the corner, the lunatic with a knife to her throat, too close...Will you even bleed?

This isn't me...I'm not this person! I lean away, lowering the scalpel. I'm not...some alley mugger, some dockside monster waiting to get his jollies off on some poor innocent in the wrong place at the wrong time. This must be the Dreamlily...please let it be the Dreamlily making me do this...

“Aelia, I'm...Dragon Below, I'm sorry...” I say, removing my arm from across her chest, letting her free. Aelia looks at me with those huge, huge eyes.

As soon as she's able to move, her arm whips up, her hand snaking to the joint where my neck meets the shoulder. She squeezes...and my body goes numb. Nothing works. I'm paralyzed! I can't move...can't breathe...the blade clatters from my useless fingers. With a gentle push she sends me crashing to the floor...everything's spinning...I’m gasping for air like a salmon pulled into a fisherman's boat, flopping around...

I see her feet in motion, heading away from me. Something red drips down her legs. She's still sobbing as she runs. Did I cut her any? I don't think so...

I struggle to stand, to breathe, to cry out, but everything is spinning and my head is far, far too's easier to just pass out, so I do.