Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I Was Just a Card


Yes.

I went out at the Weekend, without my Husband. This is a pretty rare occurrence for me and I actually rather enjoyed myself. However, this does not mean there is anything untoward afoot, it just reminds me that I am a grown up and I could do this more often if I so desired. Which I do.

However, this is not my topic. Today, we're going to talk about honesty.

The problem (well one of them) with The Internet is who knows you, and who doesn't. For instance, I arrived at said Do on Saturday to find people I knew conversing with someone who I did not know. When said person left I was rather strongly admonished for my ignorance, as it transpires this person is something of a Minor Internet Celebrity. I didn't have the faintest idea who he was, despite the fact he has retweeted me. I'd not recognize him either, not even right now. That's the thing with celebrity, it can become pretty narrow band, and just because YOU think you're all that doesn't mean anyone else would, should, or may be prepared to.

So yeah, I was introduced to someone who talks about gaming for a living. I was left none the wiser, but that's just me.

However what I DID learn from other people across the night was very, VERY interesting indeed.


YES.

When you say you are 'part of a Community' this means a great many things to a lot of different people. As a UK Warcraft Podcaster, for instance, I'm part of a pretty small club with a membership that was fairly well represented at this Do on Saturday night. I'm absolutely fine with this, and very pleased to say that the rest of this particular subset of Fandom and I get on extremely well indeed, I fact I hope continues to be the case for many years to come. However, what inevitably happens when people get together who are still getting to know each other is this:

  • You mention someone's name in passing;
  • That person is then revealed to be a completely different person to the one you thought they were;
  • This either comes as a moment of utter revelation or as NO SURPRISE AT ALL.

My night out was, it must be said, a bit of an eye opener. Gossip is normally salacious and ribald but not on Saturday: it was depressing, concerning and sadly completely understandable. It means that a fair few people of my acquaintance have been painted in vastly differing lights and that I've been able to shift a lot of individuals from the 'There's Something About You That Makes Me Nervous' column to the 'Yup, Not Trusting YOU Again' column. I'm well aware of the currents and counter currents that exist in my Gaming circles, and I have deliberately and intentionally refused to take anybody's side in anything, only working on what I perceive to be the truth and using that as my benchmark. If, as a person, you try and reinvent what people consider as the truth about you more times than you change your underwear, you're in for a hiding to nothing. That's why, like it or not, what you see with me is now exactly what you get, because the moment to attempt to try and hide behind a facade, BAD THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN.

If you want to be a Minor Internet Celebrity, time to act like a decent human being as well. Turpster is actually a good role model for this, it transpires. I will do my best to both recognise and acknowledge this fact should we ever met again. To the rest of you? Think before you open your mouths.

==

[PS: I'd also like to apologize to Qel, who I failed to meet on Saturday and who I know reads here, and who is possibly the Best Minor Internet Celebrity I've had the good fortune to meet. She did an absolutely fucking fantastic job on the night, and I'd recognise her anywhere. That, pretty much in my eyes, is doing it right.]

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Sayers :: The Surviving Cartographer


Moving Onwards.

This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated page for this novel. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any comments to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.


==


The Surviving Cartographer.



This is the benefit of marriage to the most powerful woman in the country.

Waking this way is as close to perfect as it is possible to get, Max sleepily surmises, finally focussing on the pretty blonde girl's head bobbing rhythmically in his lap. He's spread-eagled on the massive bed, stark naked, roused as has been the norm for some time by Althea, Junior Sister of the Order of Sayers. He's not totally sure but he thinks she was fellating him well before he registered the fact, practised and unerring in her devotion to the task. Max closes his eyes and allows the sensations to overtake him, not totally convinced that this isn't still a dream, real and unconscious unsettlingly interconnected.

Instead of the girl latched to his crotch he imagines his wife, Korinna, her dark hair splayed across the paleness of his thighs, jasmine and lavender wrapped around their memory. Honey sweet, salt tears, a bitterness that stings out of context, no sense in the plateau before climax. Struggling, Max chases the phantom in his mind, not grasping why fear is swallowing her beauty, turning warmth to darkness. She will come to him soon and they will make love, in the hope that they will finally be blessed with a child. The offspring they both crave, but they cannot attain. The fact for which he is solely to blame.

Reality spikes, bursting his mounting pleasure with sickening truth. A memory he knows is his yet is odd, unfocussed and indistinct, rises to engulf the bed. An infant, stillborn, slides silently from her womb into the large bath of pale water Korinna is immersed in, but it is Max's own scream of pain that becomes pleasure, his orgasm building to nothing but bile and bitter anguish. Ignited by truths uncovered an unbridled anger burns his brain, sudden and unavoidable, as his body finally detonates against his will.

You've not seen your wife naked for years. You hate her every breath. This is anything but perfect.

The orgasm seems to last forever, blossoming until it obliterates sensation and threatens to scramble all reasoning. Today however Max resists, knowing that this is exactly why they sent Althea to begin the fellatio before he was fully conscious. The regime begins before he wakes, to deliberately blur the lines and destabilise the equilibrium. Distract him with desire and consummation and he will forget the reality of his desperate situation. Except something fundamental has changed.

They are losing control.

Reality warps, the room folding upon itself, paper scored and creased into shapes he recognises but cannot grasp. The blood rushing in his head, a sudden change in pressure is further proof that he cannot ignore what he just heard.

Everything is a lie.

For the second time in what he knows is as many days the presence invades his brain, providing thoughts he is well aware are not his. The reaction is instant: hide them away, bury curiosity and panic deep within. He focusses only on pleasure, reflecting back to the woman who is dutifully lapping up the seed that has spilt across his stomach. She looks up with a smile Max knows instinctively is false. You hate me and this: your devotion is solely to the Order. Despite her loathing Althea also attempts to invade his consciousness, quietly seeking to deflect the pleasure he feels and search for something else. This is not like the first intrusion however, an approach altogether more subtle: feather light, seemingly without focus. 

He is tired of being manipulated, suddenly fatigued even though he has just woken. With a force that surprises him he looks at her and wishes she would just go away. To his considerable astonishment Althea stops and climbs off him immediately. She says nothing, won't look at Max as she restores her robes and then scurries to the door leaving him suddenly prone. Fear rises anew and he draws his limbs inward, safety in a foetal ball. 

Staring upwards there is a struggle, to rein in the increasing anguish, looking for answers in a mind that is a mess. The ceiling's patterns shift and alter as he watches, lines evolving from shapes, squares creased into wings. A paper crane created with his own hands, white paper fluttering and drifting away, then another, birds taking flight, escaping the oppressive gravity of his incarceration. Max struggles as the door closes and locks, fighting nausea and anger, and the flock is gone, the memory of their construction mingled with an understanding of why he is suddenly so afraid.

I am a prisoner in this room.

The bedroom is vast, elegantly and opulently decorated, but there is something unsettling in the grandeur. The place is spotless, cleaned with precision and regularity by the Palace maids, but it is from another time. Silks and velvets, reminders of distant lands shunned and ignored, physical cues from the opulent history before the Junta. Isolation is a constant, even inside the Palace: the red and black printed poster Max rolls over to stare at on the opposite side of the room no less insidious for being framed and mounted like art. Its message is peculiar irony in his particular situation.

The Future is In Our Hands.

Max's head is fatigue-heavy, stomach queasy yet empty, as he tries to remember what's transpired in the last few days. He was happy when he woke, subconscious glimpses of perfection cruelly shattered: in the cold light of day he is confused and disorientated. This is the sickness, the infection of the blood that the Militia Physician has treated in him for possibly years, maybe just days: the disease that often renders him sluggish and incapable. This is why his wife fails to be pregnant and subsequently daily, he must take the drugs that are specially prepared for his malaise. 

Their story, this deception is everything but the truth. The bars on the windows, the extra locks on the door are part of a narrative Max desperately needs to remember, clinging onto the fragile reassurance of routine as a start. 

What happens next?

Rudge will arrive soon, or one of his assistants as it has been of late, to take away the nausea and to allow him a day without pain or unsteadiness. His crotch aches, the erection failing to leave as has been the case at this point in previous days: he tries to move his mind to remember how this is possible but the memories scatter as he reaches for them. Phantoms hover silently, shadows in the half-light of his room, more bitterness from what he knows has passed but cannot grasp. If he shuts out everything else and concentrates...

'I see the sister failed again to adequately discharge her duty.'

Max simply didn't register Rudge enter but he's here, immaculate in his Medical Uniform. Despite immediate embarrassment the erection refuses to subside: perhaps it is the presence of the Physician’s assistant whose name Max knows but is unable to recall that's making him remain aroused. She is nowhere near as groomed or slim as Althea but undoubtedly beautiful, bright brown eyes and an attractively wound chignon of chestnut hair. Her uniform, like Rudge's, is starched and crease free: pale blue fitted cotton, militarily precise in every regard.

Max's embarrassment at being stark naked finally provides momentum to move, propelling him to his dressing room to locate something to cover a mounting list of inadequacies. He can hear the two quietly conferring as he chooses a not overly ostentatious dress robe followed by the quiet click and lock of his bedroom door. This morning's erection is harsh and almost painful: his back complains, stabbing pain from tailbone to neck. His mind remains inexact, unfocussed, and there is a sudden urge to masturbate.

His body appears to be rebelling against him.

Pushing desires aside he knows he needs to take his medicine and deal with Rudge's inevitable questions concerning his health. Returning to the bedroom Max is not at all surprised to find it is Rudge that has departed, and only his assistant remains. This happened yesterday, and the day before... 

Your name is Marion. We've done this for a week?

He doesn't speak the words: instead they are whispers in his mind, cautious and uncertain acknowledgements from Marion's encouragement. The past quietly begins to coalesce, chronology illuminated without prompting. Her words in his head this morning as he woke came from across the courtyard of the Palace Gardens. She was taught to whisper and influence in the heads of others as a child, to steer the unsuspecting in her teens. While Max has never exploited his Direction, it is her particular skill.

Marion is a Spy.

The woman has been ingratiated to enable him to escape from the Palace to a place of safety. As this fact quietly registers, his saviour becomes beautiful beyond words, despite the mounting realisation of what she has been sent to do.

Max is rooted, breathing suddenly short and painful, as Marion removes her jacket to reveal an ample bosom, creamy breasts barely held inside the regulation military bodice. Sickening horror hits, that this is the true reality that has begun his days now for longer than he can recall. As Marion puts on the special gloves, the desperate nature of Max's situation seeps through every pore and muscle: he is about to be milked. His seed is going to be forcibly harvested, whether he likes it or not.

You need to relax.

Marion's voice caresses his brain, gentle yet firm, making arms and legs respond against his will: Max almost falls into the large wing-backed chair that he knows is where this happens, where his manhood will be manipulated as required. Powerless to resist he can only watch as events move out of his hands: the panic her power on him produces doing nothing for his heart rate. Control remains grey and indistinct, false memories heightened by a haze of fellatio and unreciprocated desire: sexual pleasure used as a weapon, as hypnosis, a way to distract him from the truth.

'The suppression drug has almost cleared your system. We must continue to provide your wife with the seed or she will grasp that something is amiss...'

Marion tries to help him, but understanding isn't the problem for Max, it is the method. Nobody cares about him, his body is simply a means to an end: loneliness wraps silently around his soul, threatening to destroy an already fragile grip on reality.

'Please, no... not like this.'

Desperation pops without warning, puzzle pieces completing pictures of disturbing truths he doesn't want to face. He never makes love with his wife any more. They used to, a world away from this suddenly cold room. Now there is is milking by the Physicians, and pleasure from the Sisters, but as a convenience. There is no care or concern from any of these women, no mutual desire. Max is an animal: well-maintained, unconnected, a body devoid of feeling. Countless repetitions, careless action, an inevitable release of pressure, repeated ad nauseum.

'Let me touch you. PLEASE.'

No.

Max shakes uncontrollably, removal from this nightmarish addiction suddenly all too obvious. His need to relate to someone, anyone is what fuels his desperation: dimly acknowledging his real want isn't physical right now, but emotional. He whispers desperation into Marion’s head: let me connect with you not just body but mind. He fights it and her, trying to wrest control back in his limbs but her ability to restrain him is admirable. That is why she has this task, because the drugs are no longer in his system that can prevent him from attacking her, or indeed anyone else. Deep inside him he also knows the truth, why no woman will ever give him what he wants. Hearing it from her own mouth makes the reality no easier to grasp.

'The penalty for unauthorised bodily contact of any kind with the High Sister's bound companion is death. You know I can't give you what you want. Just let me do this.'

The oil Marion pours onto his erection is warm, sticky irritation. She begins to run her gloved hand up and down and Max wrenches away from the action, separating from his sexuality in desperation. Think of why, not how, ignore the moment and focus on your past. He was chosen to marry Korinna, the Sayers seeking him out to usher in the new Golden Age of Tamesa Aestuarium. He is fated to his task, the carrier of the Seed of Progression. 

Just how much seed does it take to produce a healthy female heir?

How many still-born children before I was brought here?

Is this my fault?

Max wonders in desperation, hopeless thoughts drifting on random currents in his mind: perhaps it's her, that's the problem and I'm simply being blamed. His Direction is sluggish, dormant and untrained, only appearing in his second decade and then by accident, summarily ignored for more important matters. His body however pushes and strains to fight Marion's control with, he now notes, a small measure of success. She struggles to contain his anger: physically he is still anything but a kept man... but now he doesn't want to push any more. He makes the decision out of necessity: focussing again on the orgasm simply as a perfunctory action, a means to an end, allowing her to sense the change inside.

The drugs have indeed cleared his system sufficiently to allow him control. They have timed events to perfection.

Hide yourself. Keep safe.

The warning is laced with desperation, and Max grasps the significance instantly. In his mind a memory appears, another turn of a page, a story instinctively not his own. Rudge stoops as if he has dropped a coin, disposing of a small vial of black sludge in the drain outside the entrance to his rooms, before straightening with difficulty and returning to his modest quarters. Morning effortlessly becomes night, another image presented and there is Mary, the kitchen undermaid, failing to add a small cup of darkness to his evening tea.

Many risk their lives.

The orgasm erupts but Max again blocks the sensation: an unexpected explosion both in brain and glans as Marion catches the seemingly endless stream of seed in the glass vial, far more than he produced when he woke. The erection is already subsiding as the tube of seed is taken and capped: Max helpfully holds his contribution as Marion returns to her regulation uniform. As she turns to take the vial back there is a chance to exploit the situation: grasping hand to her head Max pulls Marion to him, kissing passionately in a moment of unrestricted desire. 

Parchments scatter and tumble, a sudden gust of fresh air through a mind that only now grasps the seriousness of its own predicament. Max expects resistance but she doesn't, instead there is first surprise and then reciprocation. Pushing herself to his chest, Marion wraps her arms around his naked torso, as he seeks her out in her own mind, to try and grasp some sense of what she really is... but she hides herself away with a skill he is suddenly wary of challenging. 

Do not expose us.

Marion breaks the kiss, breathless and flushed, looking straight into Max's soul, the brevity of her Directed warning ringing in his mind as she takes his seed and walks out of the bedroom. Across the courtyard a single bell begins to toll, the day beginning proper through the sprawling complex. For the first time in many, many months, Maximilian Edward Wright does not feel like a prisoner. 

His life may yet have a purpose other than simply producing seed.

He finally understands that he is not alone.



==


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Sayers :: The Hidden Assassin


So We Begin.

This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated page for this novel. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any comments to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.


==


The Hidden Assassin.


It is a beautiful morning to be working in the garden.

Alexa deliberately adjusts the wide-brimmed hat, deflecting the rays of the early-morning sun off the back of her neck as she thins the row of carrots by her knees with quiet precision. She'd intended to start her day in the small greenhouse at the back of the cottage but this was no time to be inside, too glorious a morning to be stuck under glass.

Besides, she needs to be outside to watch the man they've sent to kill her.

April has slid almost effortlessly into May, the sparse architecture of the cottage garden busting suddenly into bloom, everything requiring attention simultaneously. Alexa revels in the business of organisation, it was always her particular skill before, and proudly maintains a strong grip on flowerbeds and the modest allotment behind the whitewashed greenhouse. Both are demanding her attention this bright and breezy morning, but that is not why she has ventured out so soon after breakfast. This spot is perfect, feigned ignorance of her would-be assassin’s position under the guise of domestic simplicity.

He is both arrogant and sloppy in this task: she saw him from the kitchen window, caught a glimpse of the antique sniper blowpipe as it reflected the sun's early rays. She may have been retired for five summers but a lifetime of careful study and tuition should never be underestimated. Skills like these travelled with her until she returned to the Earth. She spent far longer than usual over the toast and preserve, black bitter tea with fresh milk from her neighbours' modest herd. It is still too early for fresh honey, and the sharpness of the caffeine stimulant has made her keen, deliberately edgy. 

If they have finally sent someone to eliminate her, this deception is at an end.

In a heartbeat half a decade of apparent calm is forgotten: a gasped moment of damning comprehension. The past and the present are no longer two distinct places: her hard-fought second chance, like her soul before, fracturing without warning. She ran then, believing she'd stopped safe. This haven is simply another flashpoint that has taken time to erupt.

It is one last lie to rake over the inevitable. There is never a way to escape the life she has become.

Her stalker is waiting, anticipating his perfect opportunity: a single dart to render her incapable, before he moves in to kill her with something far less subtle. Her understanding of every possible motivation he has been taught meant she kneels with seeming innocence: the truth is anything but. In her bedroom after breakfast she unearthed the trunk inside which her assassin's tools are kept, removing what she knew is now needed. Looking through the neatly labelled and stored vials of poisons and anaesthetic housed inside the intricate wooden container, it occurred to her it had been at least a year since the formulas were replaced. There is a real chance some may have lost their potency.

Alexa would defer to poisons whenever possible, but if there were a chance that her preferred means might not do the job, there needed to be a backup. Her hatred of pistols had been legendary, almost costing her life in those last dark days. Her lover had pushed the two hand-crafted automatic weapons in both palms the night before she fled, made her promise she would use them if her deception was threatened. His taste flares fresh in her mouth: adrenaline stimulated, bitter almonds and ale with the earthy tobacco, his heady mix she could never ignore.

He'd tell me I'm already over-thinking this, and be right. I must force the issue.

The carrots will never be eaten, she notes with a tinge of sadness, as she leans back and admires her work. This spot is perfect: far too many obstacles for the sniper to ever have a clear line of sight. She is frustrating him deliberately, forcing him to move closer, so he will be pushed to take the opportunist shot rather than the calculated one. Once he renders her incapable he will come and deliver the message from her real killer, the person who had employed him. His reasons for arriving now will involve something far more complicated and involved, and that will mean a speech, a scroll that her killer will have been told to recite over her paralysed and helpless body before dispatching her.

She closes her eyes and looks within herself, making the garden real and glorious in her head, the genetic ability she has exploited since childhood. This is the power that ensured the Assassin's Guild would seek her out to recruit, her innate cognition, that she remembers first discovering could make her father give her whatever she wanted. This was the means to ensure teachers never asked the difficult questions, and her weapon to sway the village boys' attention away from the prettier girls. 

The power of Direction should never be underestimated.

The next time she stands it will happen. She can sense him less than twenty yards behind her, crouched in the bushes that provide a windbreak for the herb garden. He desperately wants to piss, the need fuelling his desire to make the first shot count. The pressure on his bladder keeps him keen, but he drank too much wine last night and he is not as sharp as he could be. Alexa can subconsciously sense his unsteadiness, the heaviness behind his eyelids, the unspoken understanding that he could well screw up the shot without her needing to distract him. He possesses no Direction to use on her either: his mind is lazy, lethargic. All he wants is this done so he can leave and move on.

The polished steel pipe is finally loaded, dart positioned and ready to fly: an almost imperceptible hiss from the tiny canister of gas indicating a primed barrel. Three places he should aim: neck, arm, ankle. Neck is the prime target at this angle for abrus precatorius, and unless the Guild has changed their poison suppliers that's what he'll use to disable her before she's given a bullet to the back of the head. Alexa slows her breathing, making sure the sheer netting wrapped around her throat is in place with the briefest of movements. 

A smarter man would have looked closer before he took the shot. But not only are you stupid, you're sloppy too, and it’s going to be your undoing.

The next shot's the worst mistake you'll ever make.

Time slows as she opens her eyes and stands: there is the pop, brief movement of the netting, confirming an impact. One, two three. Alexa counts, then pretends to collapse. It has been a long time since she has had to play dead but it makes no matter: she crumples lifelessly to the ground and remains motionless, careful to fall so that the dart has no chance of making any contact with flesh. A scratch would still be enough to incapacitate her. She remains prone, waiting for her assassin to respond, knowing that the moment he reaches her and realises he's been deceived she has only one chance to retaliate. Inside her head she counts the seconds, keeping alert: it's ninety hand blades for the poison to work through the system to ensure paralysis before he moves to finish her.

She manages thirty before he responds, shifting from behind the trained rhododendrons in a swift movement of foliage. She listens first to him urinate, senses the relief followed by determination, before he finally comes up the garden and into her field of vision. Falling with eyes open she is afforded an unimpeded view as he heads towards her: regulation Guild uniform, impossibly young but looking somehow vacant, dispossessed. He could be in his twenties, but as Alexa has gotten older she finds it hard to judge age with accuracy. The pistol is in his hand and there's no thought of failure, just to get close and kill her. Screw the procedure.

This boy possesses no honour. You deserve to die.

Alexa's conscience falters, painful past hastily reminding the present of why she left her life behind. I cannot kill any more: the sensations of regret and guilt too much of a burden to bear without self-destruction. Panic floods her chest, an ache of morality she has never successfully grasped.

Routine and repetition temper an instantaneous response, the killer's reflex: this is not about doing what is right. You will survive to ensure those who come to take your life are repaid in kind.

Show him your superiority.

The anger flares, brilliant and white hot, flooding her mind. Beautiful pain matched only by the terrible, inescapable pleasure. She cannot ignore what she has always been. What her lover finally drove her from in fear.

Now.

The tiny poison-coated blade strapped to her palm digs deep into the flesh of the boy’s ankle and he doesn't even have time to respond as he collapses to the grass. The manihot esculenta is still potent: her hunter twitching uncontrollably on the lush green lawn. Alexa takes her time getting up, removing the netting from her neck before plucking out the dart. The workmanship is shoddy, feathers hastily tied around the tiny hollow tube of curved ivory. 

She throws the amateur's work away in disgust.

The boy, for that is all he really is, watches her with what Alexa knows only too well is terror. He is already dead. No assassin would ever leave a quarry alive to tell the tale, there is no escape once poisoned. What happens now is a measure of how well she has been taught: his end should be quick, painless and professional. This time however, there are unanswered questions, and Alexa needs to make sure this fool really is powerless, to show him the error of his ways before she dispatches him. She stands over his quietly convulsing form, placing a foot on each arm before squatting over his body. 

She watches as he tries to move his legs, stomach muscles straining as his brain fails to get his lower body to operate and there is the unmistakable ache of sympathy. 

You live and breathe as I do, yet your life is at an end. How will I remember you in your final moments?

Then there is the unmistakable smell of shit, and Alexa knows the boy has unintentionally soiled himself in his attempt to reclaim control. You are taught dignity as an assassin. You should never consciously degrade yourself, even at the end. Ignoring the odour she reaches inside his jacket to locate what she knows will be there: the parchment is far heavier than she expects, the scroll rolled unusually tight.

This is not from the Guild of Assassins: instead it bears the Mark of the Third, the Eye of the Sayers. The unsettlingly-realistic eye-seal stares back at her, unblinking and unerring. 

This is unexpected indeed. 

She had anticipated her own people were hunting her down, to remove her for the desertion from their ranks, smothered in some pointless pretext. What has she done to upset the Holy Sisters, that they would send this amateur to dispatch her? Only then does she notice the patch on his uniform, black embroidery on black cotton. The banner of Marcus Maximus, with two crossed blowguns.

This child is not Guild. He works for the Junta. They are training Government Assassins?

'Please. Please don't kill me.'

His entire body pleads with her, tears streaming down his face. Alexa wonders whether he'd ever though about what he's done, spent any time considering the lives of the people he had ended. She remembers every single person she killed, knows their names by heart. Once a year, on the anniversary of her departure from the Royal Assassins of Tamesa, she sits and writes them all down, then takes the scarlet scroll she uses and burns it, a ritual to help her live with the guilt. She will need his name to add to her list.

'Tell me who you are.'

He stares, fear still bright in pale blue eyes, but remains silent. Perhaps there is some honour in this body after all. Knowing he is now completely paralysed, Alexa takes her feet off his arms and goes to squat next to him, close to his face, to be sure he can hear every word she says.

'You know that you're not getting up, that you're going to die in a pile of your own excrement with no honour. If you wish to be remembered, if you hope that someone will one day recall your glories and achievements, you would do well to tell me who you are. If you don't, your demise will be both painful and without meaning.'

The menace in her own voice surprises her, but only briefly. Nothing has changed. It is time to stop lying to yourself.

'Th...omas. Thomas, of the Water and the Boats.'

She could sense any untruths, without flinching, the resonance inside her enough to confirm this was his name. If he had lied, she could have reached within him and found what she wanted, whilst he laid helpless. The memory of the last time she was forced to makes her suddenly nauseous. 

I do not want to kill you, but I have no choice, forced by people who believe I am theirs to control. I oathed that I would never take another's life again and now I am made to break my promise by a group of women who believe they have the divine right to see my future.

My life will finally be mine again.

She looks back to the grass and retrieves the dart from where she'd discarded it, knowing she has to end his life, that this poison to the heart will stop it dead. If she leaves him as he is the paralytic will eventually kill him. She has no antidote to reverse the effects. If he has failed to discharge his duty they will just send others until they succeed. He must die, then she must run. There will be no easy conclusion however, she will remain true to her training until the end. No bullets: instead, a brief second of ecstasy, then darkness. 

The final concession of kindness, so he knows in his last moments that he dealt with a true Assassin. The message she delivers binds them both to an uncertain outcome.

A poison, straight to both their hearts.

'You were given an impossible task, Thomas Riverman. Those that sent you here knew you would fail, and that your life would be forfeit. Rest assured, I will discover the truth behind their intentions. Your death will not be without purpose.'

Alexa pushes the dart into the boy's chest and watches as his eyes widen and then flatten. 

It has been five years since she last killed someone and it still makes her ill. She is careful to not soil the body further and goes to throw up her breakfast over the row of neatly-thinned carrots instead.

Everything she has worked for since she escaped has been reduced to nothing.


==


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Sayers :: Soundtrack Part One




Having taken the plunge and begun my serialisation, it is time for a bit of background information.

As is pretty much always the case when I write, music forms a vital part of the process. In many cases the stuff I listen to morphs into a means of identifying with the places I am creating, and often 'plays' in my head as an accompaniment to action as I write it. In the case of The Sayers there is one piece that has been a constant background since I began the process, which should be familiar to those of you who are gamers. This piece of music was famously hijacked for an Assassins Creed game trailer, and features an extensive sample from Purcell's 'Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary.' The mashup of ancient and modern that results is a perfect reflection of the world I've tried to create in the novel, where the familiar sits alongside the archaic and (hopefully) does not seem out of place.

The visuals for the video have also been significant in moulding thinking for the look and feel of what I'm writing... but now I'm getting ahead of myself and don't want to give too much away.

Instead, I ask you to listen to the first ten tracks that are themes for main characters or particular parts of the Novel. I'll introduce them to you all as we go along.





There are also some separate pieces to be considered as we proceed, which work in the particular context of the narrative. Ironically the first of these was also used by Ubisoft as a trailer piece for the same series as Iron was. It will become abundantly apparent when you read the next part of my tale as to why.




I've sent of the next three sections of narrative off to my new team of Beta Readers today, and I hope to be able to publish every Sunday (possibly faster, it will depend on the people I'm working with, and I'd like this to make sense before you read it!) So, while you wait, give the Playlist a listen, and see if you can imagine what is coming... :D

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Sayers :: An Introduction


Welcome to the Alternative Future.


A while back, I did a Creative Writing course at my local Adult Education facility, which is based in a beautifully restored Victorian schoolhouse. As part of that year-long course I wrote an opening chapter of an exercise which morphed into a NaNoWriMo project, which has never seen the light of day. That is, until now.

I have decided that 'The Sayers' is going to be my first long-form work that I allow out into the world. There are many authors that would baulk at this, because it isn't making them any money and it is also allowing their work into a space where it can be readily hijacked and copied. However, I have decided that the only way I'll ever know if I'm any good at this writing lark is to share myself where people can read me and give me feedback. It never did Charles Dickens any harm when he was serialised in national newspapers, so I've decided to take the step of doing the same: publishing in sections and seeing what transpires. [*]

After all, what's the worst that can happen?

You'll see there's a section on the site already provisioned for keeping an eye on this work in progress. I'll publish as and when I can (as I'll be editing and in some cases re-writing this as we go along) and there'll be links to each section as we go. I've created the book cover above using a piece of jewellery which was instrumental in developing a section of the storyline, and you'll see below the Prologue to the piece to give you a taste of what you have to come.

Most importantly of all, I'm hoping I can persuade people to provide feedback to what you read.

The Novel stands at 65,000 words at present. It's very much an Adult work, with strong sexual scenes and violence. If all of that hasn't put you off, then start your journey here with me.


==



The Sayers.


For all of you who told me I was capable, and
to everyone who I promised I'd
mention the first time around.

You know who you are, and thank you.



==

For the next part of the story, Click Here.

==

Before.


The Age of Enlightenment is close at hand: those who fight are ready, those who listen are prepared.

All that remains is to create the Catalyst.


==


The True High Sister of the Ancient and Revered Order of Sayers stands at the altar of the chapel and closes her eyes. Within her mind there must be quiet: the sounds of military drills being rehearsed outside, the fussing of the geese as they chatter and waddle in the courtyard are efficiently silenced. Even the contented hum of the bees collecting pollen from the recently-bloomed apple trees are distraction from the task. From within, she brings forth the memories that have not yet become truth, what has been imagined that can now transpire. Those who are recognised, will eventually be joined.

The Triumvirate will be complete.

One is assumed dead, as was she. One is a prisoner, as she is here. One is a fugitive, as she must become again when all this is done, and their connection will bind present to past with unbreakable threads, silken cords of strength and passion. The three points of time, drawn in her psyche, sides of the triangle of fate. Direction runs through them all, ability to sway the mind and influence the body: her curse, that will finally become their weapon.

This must be the High Sister's finest hour.

If I am remembered only for this, then I have done well.

She understands an ideal future, crafting present from its disparate portions. This is the legacy to live for.

You are the building: points that connect, power of the Eye and of the Vision granted. I give you my future, and the moments you will fulfil. Again we will find Divine Balance through these actions.

The entire country stands poised, Civil War now inevitable. Imperialism, replaced by military rule, has finally subjugated the population to its knees. People are demanding change, in voices that can no longer be ignored. This land will become theirs to govern, as they see fit. To ensure this transpires will sadly require forfeits: the gift of accurately predicting the future is inevitably coupled with such sacrifices. This is of little concern to those, like the True High Sister, who understand that history is a continually evolving concept.

I plant these seeds within, to germinate in fertile minds. Let them grow to secure you to your tasks, then back to the Earth that binds us all. These are your True Powers: sight, light and might; use them well, and move this land forward.

The twin Scrolls of Binding are waiting, ready to be imbued. The Carrier sits ready in the waxen seals, created by the most potent strain of Medicinal Lotus: stronger than anything the Apothecaries have ever sublimated, another indicator that technology can no longer be ignored. The Future is science and faith combined, understanding and belief conjoined.

The air around the altar quietly hums, molecules shifting, separate swirling patterns of chaos and order, as the mind of the High Sister becomes one with the Carrier. The Earth silently binds itself to her, complicit approval of her choices. The Triumvirate, coupled with a single destiny.

We commend ourselves to the Sight, and do as it bids, to complete the task as it has been seen.

The compound is charged and glows on both Scrolls, faint phosphorescence in the darkened chamber. Residual energies move unhindered, igniting the candles across the altar, one after the other, fanning out in a seemingly random wave. This is magic, frighting and unexplainable to anyone except those who See, who will soon rejoice in the knowledge that Divine Balance is close at hand.

Anastasia kneels, physically exhausted by her duty. The effort expended is nothing, a trifle, part of the greater task.

The future has passed out of her hands, and will be theirs to execute.


==

For the next part of the story, Click Here.



[*] Yeah I know Dickens got paid. I CAN BUT HOPE

Monday, 3 November 2014

Big Time


'Ere Bert, this is the place... ^^

Most of you will know this site as a place where I rant when I'm now writing about games.

Well, as of today, all of that subtly changes, because this was always a place I was going to stick up my fictional writings. I'd planned to start this BEFORE November but having my main writing PC go BANG late last week has put the planning back a few days. However, I will not be deterred.

This week therefore, as I know a lot of you will be travelling or working, I will begin to build something interesting for you to read online.

I'd ask you to bookmark this site, follow me using that there Google thing, and begin the long and often tortuous process of girding your loins. If you come back here tomorrow, all will be revealed.

Yes, I'm rubbish at building up my own work.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Alternative Title


Well, this is new.


In a 'you couldn't make this up because it's Real Life' coda to my last Blog Post, I discovered I'd been blocked late last night on Twitter, with Point 1 very much applying. Normally I'd have just walked away, but because of who this happened to be doing the forcible removal of me from their timeline, I decided that I wanted to know. So, I e-mailed them directly and asked.

I have to say I'm rather glad I did.

This is a reminder that sometimes, other people aren't like you. They may share the same interests as you and look as if they are able to identify with what you are, but they don't get it. Most importantly of all their desire to participate in life with the same degree of immersion of you is fundamentally different, to the point that if you find a point of contention and that other person can't reconcile your position, there WILL be conflict. Amazingly, some people have no desire to fight about issues, or ideas, they are just happy being what they are, especially if those issues appear to have no direct impact on the World in which they personally inhabit. Most importantly, if you drag unwanted conflict into their world when they're already trying to avoid drama, for whatever reason, you're doomed from the word go.

This is a salutatory reminder that how YOU see people is fundamentally different to how they see you on the Internets. Don't ever forget this, that unless you live with them day in, day out or at least have some realistic face-to-face contact with them, your mileage will vary. The reason why I've been blocked is quite relevant too, especially in reference to the current climate on social policy in gaming. I was removed because my presence has the possibility of pulling conflict into the life of a person who doesn't want it. I've not been removed because of what I am, but because of how I've interpreted what I see on the bombsite known as Gamergate. I have to say, that's a spin on things I'd never have seen coming in a million years, but I'll bet you it's not unusual.

I'm actually writing this now to highlight the fact that, like it or not, some people don't see the World in the same way you do, and they choose not to engage with you as a result. That's an angle I think probably needs covering more than it will ever receive, but because that's not having a side or pushing a point, it really isn't newsworthy and nobody is interested.

Nobody today that is except me.