Drestin rotated the lock on his pipe with one deft hand, setting bowl sideways on the small table near his chair, and pulled a small leather pouch off of his belt. “Do you mind if I imbibe, zev?”

Hashim chuckled, “Yes, and there’s no reason to call me teacher anymore. Though it does warm my heart to know that you remember the Words of the Law still.” Hashim sat himself in another chair, opposite Drestin, and poured a small amount of a glassy, amber liquid for himself.

Passa, mouth still agape, stared at the two in turn. “You still haven’t explained what’s going on here. How is this man with mecka older than I am supposed to help with the Duke?”

Drestin looked up from his task of moving the black, tar-like substance from his pouch to the pipe. “Yes, Hashim. Now would be a good time to tell both of us about my task.” Looking at the mass for a second to appraise it, Drestin decided it was fine, used his hand to seal the pipe back up, and pushed a small artfully hidden button to light the greaseweed. A small, delicate sigh escaped him as he settled into the chair and a dark cloud already forming above them.

Hashim took a long, slow sip of his drink, leaned over his knees and held the glass in both hands. “Yes, Drestin, I suppose now is a good time to tell you about the zesh’desor, the blood-eater, that I asked you to come for.”

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A Long Road

May 26, 2017

Black, oily smoke poured from his nose as he sighed. The view from the end of the pass looked down on the foothills of the Tarthian mountains and seemed to frame the village of Missran perfectly. The steep peaks of the houses, the domed Temple of the Law set into the mountain herself, and the humming of the Machineshrine built on top of their modest Vent. The only reason this town was here.

His pipe hung loosely in his mouth, working around the grimace he carried from the extreme cold of the mountain. The spines of his mecka seemed to twist and grind in the cold lately and the weight bearing on his leg didn’t help. His arm, at least, he could carry in a sling.

He grasped he cart jerked his head a bit to his mecka cart and headed down the winding switchbacks toward Missran, a filmy haze of greasesmoke trailing behind him as if to warn the others out there. The others in the deep pine forests spotted with powerful redwoods that seemed to guard the woods.

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Mist clung to the floor of the world in thick, roping strands. It slithered through the trees, spilled across the meadows, and poured down the hills toward the gullies and rivers that filled then Ten Gorges. Bridges, lit by great torches and defended by ancient guard towers, seemed ablaze in the mist. Towns and villages lived between the distorted bonfires of the bridges, seemingly resting in torpor in the night. Occasionally the gorges themselves would sigh with the rush of the rivers that spawned them, blowing new bursts of mist into the air like silent whales, dissipating into space before they could crash back into the silver sea beneath them.

Smoke sat in one of the trees above the gorges and watched this war of light against the silent encroachment of water on the people of the Gorges. He listened as the animals of the forests and glades glided gently through the rivers of mist along the ground, finding food and shelter with blind precision. He smelled the wet yet fresh air, enjoying the feeling of life coursing through the very scent of mist and rushing water. He readjusted his silk robes and snapped his fingers, reigniting the tall silver pipe that sat with him in the tree, and inhaled deeply of the fragrant pipeweed’s smoke. Exhaling with a sigh and settling against the tree, he started to count the trees once again. Fate, it seemed, was patient.

Smoke had sat in this tree for two years, twelve months, and twenty seven days. He was sent here by the Glorious Magnate of The Moon’s Wisdom and his consort, the Seven Thundering Methods of the Sun’s Radiance. The Way of Changing had said to them that Smoke was needed to find a hero here, a hero that would put to rest an ancient enemy of the living upon the face of Galariel. He had crossed six continents and four seas to get to this tree, and had to learn the young and vainglorious tongue that was spoken in the Ten Gorges to find this forest, and find this tree, so that he might wait. Somewhere, north of his tree, was an old castle with an older order of knights who spoke a tongue even older still. There, a young woman had sought refuge and was about to emerge a hero. Then she would come through this forest, to the Ten Gorges, to help them with a problem only the Grey Paladins could handle. Here, Smoke would see her and offer his assistance, as the Way of Changing had instructed him to.

While Smoke treasured the Way of Changing for its uncounted wisdoms and impeccable accuracy on events, he was frustrated beyond this by how the Way of Changing seemed to have no concept of time. Luckily, however, he had befriended a young druid who sometimes came this way. She was sweet and sometimes brought him food, as well as entertainment. While he did not require either one of these things, being a master of the Timeless Body Methods, it was a wonderful diversion from waiting in a tree for a hero that he was merely a sidekick to.

“When you were a child, Smoke, you said to yourself that to serve in heaven is superior to living and dying a short and terrible life under the rule of the Khan of the Towering Fires. Perhaps that was true those three hundred years ago, but here you are, serving Heaven, and they ask you to sit in a tree like a squirrel, in a land of people who the Khans thought barbarians, waiting for one of these people to come save the world. Perhaps, though, we will be found in the Book of Changes when this is over. Then we will no longer be servants, we will instead be functionaries. With our own house and our own name again.”

Three hundred years of serving Heaven does not always leave one in the most stable of states. This is why Smoke waits, still, the coming of the Grey Paladin. A hero to save the world and, perhaps if he’s lucky, an old man trapped inside the body of a young monk.

The days come, the nights follow, and the world turns again.

Gulch of Fire

June 27, 2012

A gunslinger's best friendI don’t know what else to call it yet. Anyway, here goes.

Eighty years ago, things changed.
Eighty years ago, the Great Kingdoms were attacked by the Famine and people died. Civilization died. Things changed.
Eighty years ago, the mountains shook and shuddered and rumbled. Down from the peaks came whole clouds of the Famine-Flyers. Insects as big as a fist that’d eat anything. Especially steel. Especially the flesh and armor of the great Knights, our Heroes, our Kings. They ate up all of the defenses and all of our food until we adapted. Until things changed.
Eighty years ago, the Famine started. It lasted for five years and killed nine in ten. If not from the Famine-Flyers, from the starvation. From the cold. From the fear. Now things have changed and the world’s moved on. The knights and soldiers carry hard iron now. The wizards and will-workers use science and genius to supplement their magics, since the world is weak and faithless. Clerics have taken up The Black and the serve the Saints in their own ways, burying the dead and healing the sick. Trappers, Trackers, and Scouts have taken up the Rifle to claim the land back from the Famine-Flyers – even if it is just a desert now. The common people have had to become hard-bitten and competent, honing their skills to razors. And over them all are the Marshals, keeping the peace and serving the Righteous Law since the Temple Knights all died fighting the Famine.
Things changed, the world’s harder now. But we get along.
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The Hub

May 14, 2012

More of a project I’m working on with a friend of mine.

I hope you enjoy it!

As I’ve mentioned before, if you do enjoy it, please consider sending a link to this, or to the blog itself, to friends and fellow readers. If you like it a lot please consider donating to The Writing Engine over on the right hand side. I’m currently supported by a wonderful woman who can’t quite keep me up on her own and I’m slowly working through unemployment payments. Every penny that’s sent is treasured dearly for the food, clothes, and stability it gives me.

Now to work on my post for Wednesday.


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Here’s a couple of characters that I’m working on for that steampuunky fantasy humor thing I’m trying to write.

Hope you like them!


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An Odious Duty

May 7, 2012

I cannot claim ownership of this piece in its entirety, the seed comes from a dear friend of mine that has helped me do some of my editing and continues to be a great friend and confidant.

This, as well, is just the beginning. There is, potentially, much me to come.


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