I’ve decided to actually do some outlining for Solomon, since long-term survival of a story is one of my primary problems. In the meantime, I’ve written two versions of the prologue for Liar, the book manuscript I’m working on. Only one of them appears here. The following story is also posted on the Blogger site, but I don’t know how many of you check that. I should be able to do some outlining for Solomon this week, hopefully getting the next chapter posted by Sunday.
Side note, if any of you guys are WordPress Wizards and could tell me how to get a “previous/next in this category” button for my posts set up, that’d be great. Otherwise I’m going to have to start doing some serious reorganization of the site to make it more new-user friendly. This will probably involve each story getting its own subdomain. That would be a lot of work for me. Anyway, get back to me on that if you have any ideas.
by Andrew Blatt
My name is Allan and I’m a liar.
I remember the first time I told a lie. What it was is irrelevant, the important part is the feeling. It was a rush, sweeter and more profound than any sensation or drug I’ve experienced before or since. And like any drug, it’s never been quite as good as that first time. And yet I was still hooked.
Enough of that, now that it’s established that I’m a liar, you know the most important thing about me. And that’s that I’ll lie to you. Don’t worry, I’m convincing and I’ll try to be entertaining.
Anyway, her name was Emily and she was beautiful. She was in high school, I was in college. I majored in English. Not great for job prospects, but great for dating a certain kind of high school girl. Guys who are English majors are good with words. Most of my male peers were liars like me, though none quite of my caliber.
Now, let’s play a game of spot the lie:
It’s a full moon on a mild Indiana night in late May. Two moonlit silhouettes—one man-shaped, one girl-shaped—make their way through a sparsely wooded park. The trees here are thin enough to let in the moonbeams, but thick enough to hide the two of them from the prying eyes of Parks Department Security.
She stops him and looks up at him, tears in her eyes.
“I have something I need to say.” She chokes on her words, hesitates.
He knows what she wants to say, what she should say. She’s finally decided to take the advice of her friends and parents. To free herself from this older boy, whose intentions, they say, cannot be wholly pure.
And he knows how to stop her.
“If you don’t mind, I’ve got something on my mind, too.” He smiles at her nervously in the silver light of the moon. His façade is perfect.
The relief she feels is immediately visible on her face. Maybe he’ll want to break it off first? She’s young, unused to such difficult emotional decisions. Breaking up is easier to think about than to do.
“I know it hasn’t been too long since we’ve been together.” Punctuate the comment with a pause, a deep breath. “But I can’t pretend any longer.” Another beat, let her anticipation build.
“I love you.”
And now their positions are reversed. She’s hooked, instantly. She’ll stand by him right up until he discards her. And when he does, she’ll be left feeling jaded, cynical, and used.
Did you find it?
Those of you who guessed “I love you” receive one point. Those of you who thought the whole story was a fabrication receive ten points. Those of you who realize that nothing I say is wholly fact or fiction, you win.
I’m trying to change, though. Not because I feel guilty, but because I don’t. I’ve hurt so many people. I’ve broken hearts and ruined friendships, and never felt any guilt or shame.
Like any drug, after a while, the high gets further from you. After a while you do it because you have to, not because you want to.
So I’m getting help. I’ve started therapy. That’s what all this is. I’m supposed to write down how my problem has affected and shaped my life. My doctor says this journal will be a map of my road to recovery. I think she’s full of shit, but I’m paying to see her, so it’d be pretty stupid of me to just ignore her suggestions.
She says I can lie in here as long as I tell the truth eventually, but that once something’s in here, I can’t change it. I guess we’ll see how it works out.
Okay readers, here’s the deal. If I keep working on one project for too long, I eventually lose interest. Therefore, I like to rotate and keep multiple writing projects going all at the same time. I’m officially putting Aldain on an indefinite pause until I get sick of what I’ve been working on instead of Aldain recently.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, Aldain isn’t really all that interesting to me at the moment. I’m sure I’ll be lured back into his world soon enough, but not right now. Secondly, there are a few things I need to work out in my head about how Aldain’s world works before I can continue on. I like consistency and if I can’t have it in my story, I usually stop writing until I can work out some way for me to achieve that.
That said, I’m going to try and shift gears and work on some more Solomon. I’m going to try and put Solomon on a weekly update schedule (for real this time!) and if I find I can maintain it, I’ll put a listing for it on Pages Unbound.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun a new manuscript for what could eventually be a very novel novel. It’s a little outside the realm of what I normally do, but I think it will be fun. Unfortunately, I’ve decided I’m not going to post any of this one, at least not anytime in the forseeable future. When it’s done the idea is that it’ll get published. Failing that, I’ll post it a chapter at a time. But nothing is going up until it is done, that’s for sure.
That said, if I do hit a particularly tricky section that I want some feedback on, I might post an excerpt or two.
Oh, and I do have a chapter of Aldain written in my notebook, but the aforementioned mental organizing of that story world needs to happen before I can clean it up and post it.
The Drewcifer3 comments
The delays in Aldain have a number of causes, but right now, I just don’t have time for good ol’ Aldain, as much as it does pain me to have to say that. In addition to that, I’d filled up my old notebook and have just now got a new one to write more Aldain in. I’ll try and get back on schedule next week. Sorry about this.
I may end up just officially moving the second update day to “sometime on the weekend.” That aside, there will be two chapters of Aldain posted by Wednesday, just like there were this week.No comments
The clothes are perfect beyond my expectations. The tunic, coat, and trousers are made entirely from silk; they’re slate grey and crimson red–the traditional colors of Carlislander exile. Also included are a pair of boots and a sword belt, both made from durable, supple red leather. Those two are an unexpected addition, since they were not part of my original request. There is no cape or cloak, though. That, too, is part of the exile’s clothing restrictions. Turing has outdone himself, and that’s just the base materials.
I slip into magesight and examine closely the spells that have been woven into the fabric. The silk has been heavily enhanced, making it even more durable than usual. “Spell sinks” placed at a few strategic points will bleed off excess magical energy, keeping me from harm if a spell goes wrong. The belt and boots are both enchanted to be resistant to wear and stronger than their flexibility would naturally allow.
Looking deeper into the box I find there is something I’ve missed. A pair of thin, well-fitting leather gloves, the same color as the boots and the belt. In addition to several spells worked into the material, the palms have an unusual pad sewn on over the leather.
“What is this?” I ask Turing, presenting my palm to him after slipping on a glove.
Turing smiles. “That’s a little mundane bonus. The material is specially textured and designed to keep your sword from slipping out of your hands. Or anything you grip for that matter. I think you’ll be pleased with the results.”
I smile, removing the glove and placing it back in the box with its mate, on top of the other clothes which I have folded and returned. “It is wonderful, Mr. Director. You’ve delivered everything I wanted and then some.”
“So does this mean you’re satisfied with your payment?”
I nod. “Very. More importantly, it significantly increases the chances of me surviving my encounter with Maxwell. That has to happen before I can teach your men.”
“Naturally. You’ll be departing in the morning, right?”
Turing nods approvingly, slowly standing and turning back around to face the window. When he stands, so do I.
“Lodgings for tonight have been arranged for you, Sorcerer. Simply talk to Corporal Bell, the young lady who brought you here. She’ll escort you to your quarters.”
I bow again, despite his back being toward me. “Thank you again, Director Turing. I promise I shall return as soon as I can.”2 comments
“Now that we can speak freely in person,” says Turing to me, “I’d like to confirm a few details of our arrangement.”
I nod. “Fair enough, though I thought that the terms were quite clear.”
Turing is quick to put me at ease. “I think they were too, Sorcerer. I’d just like to make sure we’re in agreement now so we don’t find out we’re not later.”
“Of course. Forgive me if I sounded rude.”
“Not at all.” His expression shifts, a previously unrevealed intensity suddenly appearing. “You have knowledge of magical techniques that, in the hands of my magicians, could very well help us end this war. The Elders are not prepared to have their own weapons turned against them.”
I nod. “Exactly. And I will teach your magicians as much as I can. However, before I can pass on Poxen’s teachings, I need to complete the task that my Mistress has set before me. And to help insure that. . .”
“You’ve asked for your payment in advance,” finishes Turing. “And you’ve requested something more practical than any sort of cash.”
“Exactly. That’s why I commissioned the clothes. Well-enchanted garments are something I am desperately short on, considering my position. Mostly because I have no head for enchantment and Maguerite is far too busy to do object-work for me, personally.”
Michael smiles and pulls a box from the bottom drawer of his desk. “Here you are, Sorcerer. They were tailored to the magical scans of your body you sent us. They should fit perfectly.”
I take the box and lift the lid almost reverently; what I find inside makes my breath catch momentarily.No comments
Hey guys. I didn’t get a chance to write up the next Aldain yesterday because of homework, and I have work and improv tonight and a show in Hammond tomorrow. It might be as late as Sunday or Monday before the next Aldain chapter goes up. One way or another, by next Wednesday there should be two new ones posted.No comments
Solomon: Chapter 11
Lucinda spoke to Jacob as they hurried towards the others. “I’ve never seen you do anything like that before. With the axe and the jumping and the fire.”
Jacob grimaced as he held both their weights. “It’s a new trick. Adam was killed last night. I bound the demon that did it to myself. I’ve got some new tricks as a result.”
Lucinda shook her head. “I really don’t get you. Your mentor is dead. And you don’t even care.”
Jacob was silent at first, then spoke, staring straight ahead, still pushing towards their allies. “The past has no place in a current situation. Focus on what’s in front of you; magic moves too quickly to dwell on what has already occurred. Adam taught me that.”
Jacob and Lucinda heard the battle before they saw it. The way they had come to cut down on travel time required them to climb a small hill on their approach. As they crested the hill, the scene below took the breath out of both of them.
Magical energy of all types tore through the air. Fire, ice, lightening, death all mingled, shattering the suburban silence of the subdivision.
Under Vivian’s auspices, the very plants had joined the fray, snaking around the ankles of the Baron’s assassins, impeding their progress and tripping them.
Silver and Felicity sat back to back, each in the lotus position, eyes closed, chanting. They worked together to protect their friends from harm, Felicity influencing chance to make as many attacks as possible miss, Silver weaving invisible reflective barriers which became brilliantly visible when an attack struck it and was reflected back at the assailant. For those few attacks that did land, Vivian darted about, going from person to person and healing their wounds.
Mort had already animated three fallen attackers. The undead moved with unnatural speed and precision, pummeling anyone near them. Mort himself was expertly wielding the very power of the Reaper, draining the vitality of anyone who got close to him, growing stronger with each life he touched.
Fire flowed continuously from and around Aidan. The Pyro was in his element, scorching, burning, incinerating anyone and anything in his path. As he and Lucinda looked on, Jacob witnessed Aidan blast two magicians who had flanked him into ash.
For all their strengths, the battle was taking its toll on the five magicians. Vivian was clearly running low on magic at this point, Mort was becoming more and more distracted as his consciousness was split between controlling more and more undead. Aidan was showing no signs of slowing down, but that in and of itself was dangerous. When controlling one of the elemental magics that recklessly, there was a chance of being caught up and consumed by it oneself. The strain of influencing the battle was also physically showing on both Silver and Felicity. Silver’s breathing was beginning to become raspy and irregular. As for Felicity, the little girl was drenched in sweat from head to toe and breathing heavily. Both of them wore a grimace of pain as their pushed themselves to the very limit of their magical prowess.
At this point, Lucinda was not going to realistically be able to contribute much more to the fight. It was up to Jacob, he himself running in less than top condition, to try to turn the tide of this battle. The five of them had worn their attackers down to the point where only four had survived and were now pressing in the attack.
Jacob turned to Lucinda. “Lucy, I’m going to set you down here, on top of this hill. You stay here and let me go handle this. In your weakened condition it’s far too dangerous for you to attempt to join the fray. Especially when I’m reasonably certain that I can help the others finish this quickly without you putting yourself in danger.”
Lucinda started to argue, then thought better of it. She nodded as she slid from Jacob’s arm into a sitting position on the grass. “You’re right Solomon,” she said. “Now get down there and help our friends!”
Jacob held out his ring as he ran down the hill. He began to chant in his multi- layered voice. As the incantation ended, a huge wolf -fur black as coal, unearthly cold rolling off of it- sprung forth from the ring. “Marchosias!” cried Jacob. “Hear your master and obey!”
The wolf turned and ran to Jacob, stopping at his feet and lowering its head in what was unmistakably a bow. “I live to serve,” it said in a deep, throaty growl. “My master.”
“The Icer, the Drencher, and the two Augmenters are our enemies. Destroy them.”
The wolf howled in exhilaration and charged, covering the remaining distance in the blink of an eye. The remaining enemy magicians scattered and broke in confusion as the demon fell upon them. The first Augmenter– wielding magics that did nothing more than make his body better, faster, stronger– screamed in agony as Marchosias clamped its jaws around the magician’s back, sunk in huge, perfectly white fangs, and ripped out his spine.
Their ranks now routed, the remaining three magicians were made short work of by co-operation between Jacob’s demon and Mort’s undead. Marchosias went about the business of disposing of evidence, quietly munching on the remains of the fallen magicians as Jacob helped Lucinda make her way down the hill to the others.
“We need to act quickly,” Jacob said as he approached his friends. “Is everyone okay?”
As he finished his question, Felicity tipped over from her sitting position, crumpling against the ground with a very soft thud. Aidan ran to his sister, with the others moving to her just behind him.
“She’s breathing,” Aidan said. “Just passed out from the effort.”
“First order of business,” said Jacob. “Everyone get inside. Aidan I assume you have wards set up within your home?”
Aidan nodded, scooping his sister into his arms. “Of course. It’d be pretty damn stupid not to.”
Jacob turned to the demon who had already gotten rid of most of the bodies of the enemy magicians. “Marchosias, I need you to shift into a shape more appropriate for this environment. Finish up what you’re doing, then stand guard on the house. Alert me before you use deadly force, but don’t allow anyone to disturb us.”
The demon nodded as its shape warped and changed until a particularly vicious- looking German shepherd stood before them. Thus disguised, Marchosias went back to the business of scavenging.
Mort snapped his fingers and the zombies he had animated crumbled into dust, which scattered in the wind. Aidan led the assembled conspirators into the house. Jacob and Lucinda were the last two inside, the latter leaning heavily on the former, and Aidan paused and muttered a few words at the door frame once the door had closed behind them. Runes and sigils of various colors, shapes and sizes glowed brightly inside the house for a moment, then faded. Aidan turned to the assembled group.
“We’re safe for now,” he said.
Jacob sized up his allies. Felicity was unconscious. Lucinda was barely able to stand. Silver’s breath was still shallow and ragged. A dazed look dominated Vivian’s features; she seemed to be only mostly aware of what was happening around her. Mort and Aidan didn’t look nearly so haggard, but a glance in magesight quickly revealed both of them to be almost completely drained of power. Jacob himself was a little lightheaded after having to both call on Alastor’s power and do a summoning. All- in- all, they were not in fantastic shape.
“Okay,” said Jacob, eyes scanning the room. “Obviously we’re going to need some recuperation time before we forge the Pact. For now, I suggest everyone get some rest. Between the house wards and Marchosias guarding us, we should be relatively secure here for the time being. In a few hours, we’ll set up the ritual and complete it as soon as possible. Aidan, I want you to let me know when Felicity wakes up. For now, I for one am going to take a nap on that couch.” He pointed. “Anyone have any better ideas?”
The assembled magicians shook their heads. Well, most of them did. Vivian just sort of looked at Jacob funny and Felicity was still fast asleep.
“Right then.” Jacob walked over to his previously specified couch, removed his shoes and hat, stretched out, and closed his eyes.
The lift doors open; I step out and move down the hall, still escorted by the soldiers. I reach the door of the Office of the Director and it soundlessly retracts into the wall. The soldiers stop just outside the door as I enter.
The far wall is little more than a huge window, and it is there that Michael Turing stands, back to me, looking protectively down at the city which is his to care for. The trust of the Council of the Technocrats and the larger population of Melbourne has so far proven to be well-placed; Michael Turing has led better than anyone could have expected.
Slowly he turns to face me, a grim smile gradually emerging on his face. Turing is about a dozen years older than me. His sandy-brown hair is beginning to show grey, likely from the stress of managing an entire nation for just over a decade. We’re about the same height, though he is slightly stockier than I. Piercing green eyes heighten the air of authority he naturally projects. In short, Michael Turing looks every bit the part of the born leader he is.
“Aldain Walker, Proxy of the Mistress of Pain and Sorcerer of Carlisle.” He executes a near-perfect imitation of a Carlislander bow. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”
I smile back and bow as well. “It is an honor to be your guest, Director Turing. However,” I say, displaying my wrists, “your safety precautions, while both wise and understandable, have left me at a considerable disadvantage.”
“Oh, of course,” he says, moving to his desk and pressing a button. The glow suffusing the suppressors dims and I feel the cuffs loosen. He gestures to a chair across from his desk and sinks into his own chair as he implores me to sit. I do so.
Turing continues on apologetically. “It’s an unpleasant necessity, I’m afraid. I would have mentioned it in our correspondence, but shorter messages are, of course, more secure.”
While he speaks, I slip the loosened suppressors off and set them on the desk. The sense of relief and power, of completeness I feel as the magic is returned to me puts me much at ease. I shake my head and wave a hand in dismissal.
“No apologies necessary. I was neither surprised nor offended. Caution is nothing but a virtue for people in our situation.” Suddenly struck by a peculiar thought, I chuckle to myself.
“Something funny, Sorcerer?” Turing is a little confused.
“Only to me, Director. I just wonder what my father would have made of my lifestyle these days. It seems I defy the Teachings of Marrin and the sacred Word of the One at every turn. And now I’ve come to collaborate with the most prominent of the One’s Forsaken.”
Turing smiles. “I’ve always felt that the One had simply chosen my people for a different path. We may lack magic, but we are all of us blessed with greater intelligence and curiosity than the average man. It has always been the view of the Six Families that the greater affront to the One would be ignoring the gifts given to us and instead choosing to lament over ones withheld.”
“I think I like your interpretation of the One a little better than Marrin’s.” My expression grows a bit more serious and I sit up a bit more in my chair. “But the time for idle talk has passed, I think. Let’s get down to business.”No comments
But not a Sunday Update. I swear.
Hi. I’m Andrew and I run this site. I’ve recently implemented Paul Kuliniewicz‘s “Magic” Spam prevention thing. With any luck, this should cut down on the number of spam comments in my moderation queue. However, it may become necessary for you, dear readers, to register an actual account to properly comment on the site from now on. We’ll see how this goes.
-The Drewcifer6 comments