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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Sayers :: The Sides, Gathered (One)


More smut incoming soon ^^


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 blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations 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 Sides, Gathered



Alexa stands on the landing of Darkworth's shop, separating effortlessly three interactions below.

She senses the young boy that guarded her, Junior Assistant with a customer, discussing the best combination of materials to help prevent Black Fly on rapidly-growing vegetables. Darkworth himself is in full flow, heated exchange with a supplier over requirements for the following month, and his concern that the Military were stopping increasing numbers of vital reagents at the ports. However, for now at least, it is the last pairing that interests her the most. Daniel is somewhere at the back of the shop, in a storage area, at least one hand and possibly more inside the robe of the woman he now knows is responsible for altering Alexa’s mind. Hilltop practices what he does best, deflecting the truth with physical distraction. By the level of arousal she can sense, Olivia is no wiser as to his enlightenment.

Both customer and supplier depart in short order, and Alexa makes sure Hilltop knows she’s on the move, touch to his mind that he instantly acknowledges. Then she focusses on where Darkworth stands in the room below her, before sending a simple line of Direction:

Is it safe?

Silas sends the boy to lock front door and draw blinds: when there is no more movement below, she proceeds. Descending into the shop, memories spark of the Imperial Apoth's Emporium in Tamesa, her home for so many years. Neat lines of bottles stacked on shelves, impeccably labelled and presented alphabetically: rows of aged wooden boxes sit, densely packed in hand-made displays running the length of the walls, behind a counter that has seen many spillages over the years.

There are places to sit but no tables, plus what is undoubtedly an extremely expensive and well-provisioned distillation lab that extends up and around one whole corner. The almost omnipotent smell of just-extinguished candles mixes with freshly-baked bread and pork, tonight’s meal being prepared. This area should be darker than it is, Alexa notes, certainly with blinds drawn, but there are a row of small glass bulbs that glow at the back of the shop with a brightness that is a surprise.

'Phosphorescent lights, that activate when a certain level of darkness is reached. We're the first in the arcade to be supplied.' Darkworth pronounces the advance with a touch of pride. He's a small man, Capitol-accented, but despite obvious age wears a long shock of dark hair tied in a neat black plait. He stares at Alexa with familiarity: it takes a moment to insert him correctly into her chronology.

'You used to work for the Guild's Poison Supplier, didn't you?'

Darkworth smiles, and her past again shifts into the present. This man was always decent and loyal, with an expansive heart. He never denied his eye for the ladies, several mistresses but never a wife… easy to see how he would share an affinity with Hilltop.

'You have a good memory, Assassin Greengrass.’

I already knew.

His Direction is unsurprising: less disbelief in his demeanour than Daniel, almost resigned to the knowledge his daughter is complicit in what has transpired. Darkworth comes across the shop and offers Alexa his hand, assistance with the last half dozen steps, gesture which she is immediately grateful for. As their hands touch he provides a simple, damning image. The scroll he shares is the exact same as the one she’d carried from the cottage. He’d seen Olivia hand this message to Riverman as he’d passed through the town, curious himself at the Eye Seal. Silas then grasped that morning via troop communications that the Military Assassin he’d furnished with poison was being sent east to kill her.

His duplicity, supplying both Military and Revolution, had provided the light-bulbs and his safety. Alexa lingers, taking his arm, knowing Daniel’s assertion to be correct. Of the countless players who’d chosen to stack both sides against the other, here was a man who truly did care for the right things.

I trust you.

As she Directs the room ripples, legs suddenly buckling, and Darkworth’s arm is around her waist, his junior suddenly running for a chair.

'You're suffering from the effects of an opiate overdose, it's no wonder you're feeling unsteady. Olivia is brewing what I believe is a comparable anti-nausea compound, it will not be long. Come, sit here.’

‘I am incredibly thirsty, is that likely to be a side-effect?’

‘Indeed, dehydration is normal. Edward, go get a pitcher of water and alert my daughter that her patient is awake.’

The boy places a chair and then scurries away, leaving Darkworth to fuss, attention Alexa has no problems with allowing. He checks her pulse, chestnut brown eyes watching carefully for reaction. At the back of the shop there is commotion, sudden laughter and the sound of running water, then Edward returns, large heavy metal jug and another carafe put to instant use. As Alexa watches him pour and she drinks, Daniel’s presence appears, with another behind him. This woman is sated, warmth and comfort, revelling in the understanding she has been pleasured whilst her partner’s ex lover sat seemingly unaware, contentment radiating from one blissfully oblivious to the the reality of her situation.

Alexa looks up to meet Olivia Darkworth’s gaze for the first time, closing her mind completely. Stunningly beautiful, more intelligent than her father, she carries a small bowl that steams oddly, movements of Earth that do not seem normal.

‘I used chromatography on the residue of the scroll: I’m still not 100% sure what it was the Sisters used, so I've had to guess at what to throw into this solution. Needless to say, if it doesn't work Father has a bucket for you to throw up in, hopefully that might improve your situation regardless.’

There is no welcome, minimal consideration of respect. Her smile covers the lie with considerable skill: to an untrained mind she will appear pleasant and open, without any deceit. Alexa assumes Hilltop will not allow her to be poisoned further, that this mixture will make things better and not worse. The bowl is handed from daughter to father, then to her: she shuts her eyes, taking the liquid in one hit. There is aniseed, charcoal and something else familiar as stomach turns briefly, before the nausea settles, but refuses to recede. Olivia takes the bowl, looking back to her father, already knowing this will not be enough.

‘How do you feel, Mistress Greengrass?’

‘There is still discomfort, though that has helped. Another dose would be useful.’

‘I have brewed a complete batch, knowing it may take several hours for the nausea to completely recede. Edward, please refill this and take care to use the ladle. Do not dip the bowl into the pan as I have seen you do before.’

The boy is clearly afraid, and vanishes at speed. Now concern appears, but it is skill at question, nothing more. Olivia’s pride swells, clearly confident her ability was without equal, simple when you knew what to prepare well in advance. Pulling deeper within, Alexa waits quietly for the second bowl, making eye contact with an impassive Hilltop. She is surprised that he does not look away, but holds the gesture. Her mind focuses on the carried message, a sudden moment of unexpected clarity.

‘We will wait, and bide our time, and when the moment comes, we will be ready to return the Sisters to their true path.'

Alexa replays the elderly female voice echoing within, fragment of somebody else's past given in semi-consciousness, and there is a moment of enlightenment. She knows whose life this came from. The second bowl arrives and is taken without a thought, and nausea leaves her. The room visibly lightens as a result, and Olivia is obviously impressed at her efforts.

'Your colour is returning. I think that second dose was a good idea.'

The phantoms in Alexa’s mind shift and tickle, players in a history being noted and placed. The Imperial Physician is new: Alexa knows him from another place and his loyalty does not sit with Marcus. She asks for more water, time to consider as concern creeps into the chronology. Too many people possess divided loyalties, their own desires far greater than any cause they choose to champion. Darkworth’s daughter is not the exception, but the rule. These are not motivations for freedom, simply negotiation, material gain for no real victory.

There is also no denying her nausea has vanished. Alexa is better, more relaxed than she has been since having left home: the soup having as much of an effect on her well-being as the antidote. In fact, the warmth in her body is a pleasant surprise.

‘Both your Apoth and cookery skills are gratefully received, Mistress Darkworth. Thank you.'

Olivia's smile is genuine: for a moment Alexa wonders if they could have been friends, perhaps if things had been different this would not end up as confrontation. There is a moment that hangs but it is Darkworth Senior who breaks it, clearly focussed on more pressing matters.

'If you don't mind Olivia, I'd like the shop reopened whilst I go talk to our guest in private. The last thing we want right now is any overly suspicious activity.'

His daughter appears perturbed, but nods and heads to the entrance, followed by the assistant who begins to reopen blinds. Alexa moves to the back of the shop, following Daniel into the rear storage area where Darkworth is already preparing her a seat. It is surprisingly spacious, even with low-hanging beams: this will be where business for the Assassins Guild would be conducted when the shop was open. Behind the packing case used as a chair, Alexa feels a draught as she sits, understanding the space has a secret door, down to a basement she’d bet was used as a safe spot for both items and people.

Once settled, Darkworth wastes no time in addressing her.

‘Mistress Greengrass, how much of what now sits in your head are you prepared to share?’

‘This has nothing to do with willingness, I assure you. There is so much, and all intensely personal, I suspect fashioned by the Sisters to try and dissuade me from sharing it openly. My bigger concern is the presence that now exists within me. If I didn't know better I would say these aren't actually memories, it is almost as if someone else is appearing and disappearing in my subconscious.'

‘What I know of my daughter’s research into the Opiates the Sisters have been using for visionary purposes is considerable and may be of some value. For a long time if you asked anyone they'd deny the plant it was created from even existed. The work done in the Far Asias in the last decade is hugely sophisticated and far beyond anything we have here, but elements of it begin to emerge from the Capitol. Cross-propogation, polished sublimation techniques... cutting edge technology. There are several inside the Palace, spies for our cause, and they have confirmed there are areas of the Imperial Garden that survived the Military's influence. I have no doubt what was used on you is very similar to the compound the Sisters utilise to enhance their powers of Vision.’

‘There are similarities with this to other drugs I have willingly imbibed, that I will grant you. You must be aware what Marchant used to communicate over distance: it was too powerful for me to even take safely. But for him… those formulas were lost on his death. His Manual vanished, recipes taken to his grave. The Sisters tried many times to obtain his understanding and failed.’

Daniel remains silent, concern apparent without Direction. He’d shunned the drugs, refusing to be part of the teams that offered to use them, scared at how his mind would react to such exposure. Alexa had suffered for many days, sweats and hot flushes, body painful and wracked with cramps. She is aware that whatever is affecting her now has a lot in common with the side-effects from those last days, after she became Marchant’s Tether from necessity. The distinct fluidity in her lower body was unmistakeable, inhibitions softening and sensations beginning to heighten…

‘I am cautious to share anything until I am certain of all the details, but know I’ve been bought here to protect the Seed of Progression.’

Darkworth’s amazement is considerable, but Daniel already knows, she had told him unconsciously upstairs. Yet now his heart rate rises, adrenaline sparked: Alexa can sense something else at play. An oath has been sworn by her ex-lover that contains hidden meaning: his surprise at her Directed admission upstairs was not at the task she had been given.

He had already promised himself to do the same.

'What if I said the Seed didn't need protecting, that we were already taking care of it?'

Silas turns open-mouthed to Daniel, who seems only mildly apologetic at his friend in response.

'I'm sorry, I was sworn to secrecy. The Green Men have been moving for some time: since the Seed was removed from the Sayer's Chapel to the Palace three months ago there's been a plan in place to free him when they could be sure that he was not under direct Sayer influence. We created a diversion this morning, explosions and an attack planned to look as if it was a threat to the High General. If all is going to plan, they should have the Seed out of the Palace by now, and they'll move him at first light tomorrow to the home of one of Lucius' sympathisers.'

Alexa has stopped listening, languid in the warmth of the afternoon sun, drawn to a moment of her own creation. Sent to protect the Seed, she couldn't remember his name until now. Ridiculous, such small moments eluding her recall, except there is something in this man she’s already grasped. So much forgotten when she fled, all tied to the same sequence of events. A moment in the Palace, hours after Ekhert took the sword from her hands. The Tether drug remained in her system, doing strange things to mind and body. Unable to sleep, she had walked the Palace in darkness, and heard movement from the Stables. There she had found him.

Maximilian.

The Directed whisper invades both men’s minds, compulsion that silences everything except their focus on her, drawing combined psychic strength into her own being. This compound is clever, sophisticated yet subtle, and now Alexa concentrates, boosting her range with those who surround her, task at hand far simpler. This mixture Olivia has provided has not reduced her potency, far from it. Consciousness is further heightened, understanding that what been drunk is actually improving the ability to locate her target…

'Just Max, the rest is a mouthful.'

The man stood, quietly grooming a grey mare. It had struck her as odd that the husband of the High Sister would be doing something so menial, but it had been apparent even without her ability that the simple process of brushing helped him relax, feel safe. She found herself envious, in that moment, of his serenity and calm, how unaffected he could be by the Earth, that to be so was an ability she could only attain beneath the surface of the water.

Then he’d attempted to start a conversation. She'd been rooted to the spot, desire suddenly beyond overwhelming, even though fraternising was forbidden. She hadn't cared then and she didn't now.

The past and present tug insistently, attempting to connect. Passion is what drives her, pleasure from control in all its forms, giving her vision an extra potency upstairs with Daniel. Her future, theirs, tied to two men, making body stutter with undoubted anticipation. Giving into her own arousal from the journey and now, she lets the World around her collapse, concertinaing to a single point of connection.

Max’s mouth is on hers with a force that takes her breath away, brutal kiss reducing the world to a small square of red paper, fluttering quietly away on the warm summer breeze...

'Alexa, can you hear me?'

Daniel is talking, out of direct field of vision, not part of what has taken her brain. She holds up her hand and tells him to wait, except they aren't words from her mouth or Direction but something entirely separate, enough to make Darkworth and Hilltop react simultaneously with incredulity. The command forms in the air, 'Wait' spelt with letters and meaning drawn in the shafts of sunlight from the high, uncovered windows.

In Alexa's mind she still stands in the Stables, oblivious to everything but Max.

The Stables.

The cartographer’s world is parchment, elegantly annotated sheets of facts and figures, folding onto itself: in and out, over and back. Drawings in a folder become living, breathing people, figures in a chase, the taste of adrenaline in her mouth transferred from his kiss, transformed back to her body. His voice, quiet and still, drawing anger away, sliver of calm in the moment of greatest terror.

‘I will always be inside you.’

The Imperial Summer House explodes, massive eruption from basement to roof, unconfined fireball which effectively destroys the entire structure in seconds. The stench of gunpowder is in the air, chaos as she stumbles and falls except she's not her any more, she is him.

Max and her are escaping from the Palace as one.

He's being helped to his feet by a woman, deceiving in serving robes, hand in his as both run towards a low cart, horses scared and impatient. Whoever she is he trusts her, that is apparent, but Alexa needs to see a face, to confirm an identity. Making him slow, holding back, the woman is forced to turn and see why, tugging on his arm, before there is a second of disorientation.

Alexa’s brain takes the present and inserts the past, missing pieces in a puzzle, allowing this woman’s history to interleave with her own. The story of a now-familiar face, their life and times is rapidly drawn, history illustrated, years of shared chronology coloured and illuminated. They had begun as students, together, until one day Alexa had become the teacher…

The air stretches around both women, present moving to past in a breath and it is early morning in the Guild’s Training Yard. Alexa is pulled towards her pupil, through and around, suddenly and decisively at her back with a blade strapped to each hand, beating her again in the simplest of drills. The apprentice has failed to intercept from behind because she refuses to focus. There's no way the teacher is ever going to change this woman's mindset if she won't concentrate on the basics...

'It's a setup.'

'What is?’

'One of the team, those you you sent in to free the Seed from the Palace. They're not allied to the Green Men. They're a double agent, working for the Military.’

The world falls back into place around Alexa's body. She exists fully again in the Storeroom, at least for now. Only a heartbeat is needed to assess everything she's just seen, and the path is clear. This is a direction to follow, points to join. Instinctive understanding, the Green Men's plan is flawed. She puts hands to head, palms hard against temples, willing back recall. Needing to convince Daniel of her sincerity, and it is always the names that fail her. Her mind throws a prompt: conflict after the Coup, smashing of china and glass, anger unbridled and unrestrained, a woman who wanted something she could never have. Whispers from everywhere that she was not to be trusted in those last days, already freelancing for the highest bidder, regardless of their affiliation. A mercenary, without honour or respect.

Desperately Alexa dives deeper, last fateful days at the Palace: an argument, heated and intense, fuelled by desire that went beyond professional appreciation. Marchant’s last and most promising apprentice had told her there was no future in independence, that teamwork was the most pointless of fallacies. Even at distance the venom in her words was obvious, simple focus on one thing alone: herself. Selfishness is a great path to destruction. Alexa knew then that Marion was trouble.

'There is no way I could possibly know who the Green Men had sent to do this job. Two days ago I was dead, no-one knew where I was. Except, it appears, the Sayers. They found me, and sent me a message, because the Seed was being used as a way to allow you to lead the High General straight to Lucius Brown. They understood I'd have an affinity with the spy: after all, I helped train her. Darkworth sent Marion Woodgrove to the Palace to work with Rudge.’

All colour suddenly drains from both men's faces.

Darkworth reacts first, anger exploding from his mind, body struggling to contain the detonation of disbelief and upset that radiates from him unchecked. Alexa needs no explanation: this deception from Woodgrove was different. His daughter’s duplicity in assisting the Sisters had come as no real surprise to him, but Marion had crept into his head, used the older man’s weaknesses as strengths to deceive. His own desire had ultimately undone him. All this she processes in seconds, understanding the drug is doing things to her mind she is increasingly unhappy with maintaining.

‘I’ve known her family for twenty years… I believed her when she said she’d changed, that she wanted to help. Her Direction was sincere…’

‘You were right, Daniel. Only this man can be trusted. Everybody else is complicit.’

Alexa’s statement is a prompt, focussed at Hilltop: suddenly guilt bursts from him in a wave. Grasping her hand he sends her an image: too obsessed trying to locate her, he’d failed to check Darkworth’s choice of personnel. There had been an assumption that Rudge would have raised an objection to her if there’d been one… but now Daniel too grasps revelation. If his loyalty is not for the Iliad…

He moves for the Sisters?

Alexa shows Daniel her past, contact with Rudge outside of the Palace, position as Physician at the Priory north of her village before moving to the Capitol. He had come for herbs, and she closed her mind whenever he did. Every card in this deck seemed stacked, yet the Sisters had failed to anticipate her ability to look beyond the carefully placed chronology. Again these connections weren’t clever, they were clumsy and opportunist.

With all she now knows, this travesty could be exposed for all to see.

Alexa grasps both men’s hands in her own and focuses, willing the room around all three to blossom open, walls peeling apart in effortless removal of the restrictions of the Earth. She pulls the past to her from their memories in the shop and from the Capitol: recalling their plan and placing within the damning positioning from Rudge and Olivia of them both. In a blink there is the future, echo of Riverman before, as Marion’s ‘predicted’ death at Alexa’s hands becomes reparation for treatment of various Sayer sympathisers, using Greengrass to balance the scales.

Max himself sits at the centre, life important above all else. Except, deep within Alexa’s soul, there is a beat that remains, untouched by anyone. The possibility of defiance: Max and Daniel, together.

‘We will always be inside you.’

She holds one close as the other protects, entangled together in lightening dawn, calmness without comparison, minds combined making her ache. What she is pales against their strength.

What they are together everyone will fear.


‘There is no magic in prediction, only the present to be manipulated.’

Alexa lies without thinking, muscle memory recalling the skills to hide what she knows is inevitable but yet cannot accept. They both pulse inside her, coming to rest, orgasms hard and brutal: the future lives untouched. This will happen, and she alone will bind the three, together.

The sides, finally joined.

‘Now I know why what Olivia was brewing smelt familiar. She’s Tethered you to Max.’

When his eyes meet hers Alexa wants to kiss Hilltop, hard and long, ignoring both the situation and Darkworth’s barely contained anger. That had been her problem with the Tether compound the last time, why Marchant had told her to avoid it. It was acting as an aphrodisiac she really didn’t need. The manipulation makes her angry and this will remove the desire, and that too is a reaction that the Sisters had anticipated. Her hatred for those behind this was an issue she would soon need to address.

‘You’re right, I am Tethered. She has placed many things inside my head I could really do without.’

‘You need not worry, I will provide you with an effective antidote, Mistress Greengrass. It is time my daughter's work be given to a wider audience.’

Darkworth moves with grim determination, crossing to a part of the storeroom filled with Alchemical Texts. Without ceremony he pushes a book backwards and there is a click, small drawer appearing under the row of shelves. He reaches inside, and pulls out a slim notebook, before handing it to Alexa.

‘I believe you will find within this book the formulas for both Vision and Tether compounds, delivered by a Priory Sister a week ago to my daughter. She asked for Rose Oil and Menthol two days later. I had assumed it was medicinal. Suddenly many things make a great deal more sense. I am pleased to see my decision to call on assistance now was not misjudged.’

Having temporarily dropped from the Tether bond, Alexa is only now aware of raised voices in the shop, undoubted sounds of an altercation, and Darkworth is gone, moving purposefully. About to follow, Daniel stops Alexa with a hand to her arm, and she understands this is not her fight. This is why he used arousal as distraction. Once Olivia’s complicity was confirmed, the only logical response became immediate action. Silas had called for help, and is dealing with one traitor. Now she and Daniel must confront the other.

With the drama in the shop, speech is at least possible, and voices drop to whispers.

‘The plan is to smuggle him out in the daily delivery cart, yes? The one that leaves from the main Stables? The attack was at the bottom of the south west wall close to where Marcus has his Summer House?'

‘All that from fifteen seconds of shared mind is impressive even for you.’

‘This is far more sophisticated than any Tether compound I ever took. He’s in my head now, under canvas, in a cart heading East. Where’s he going?’

'They're moving him to one of three possible locations on the North shore overnight, depending on how much military traffic is present. I don't know which one she’ll favour, that's Marion's choice. In the morning a courier’s being sent with details of where to go next. It’s considered too dangerous for Lucius to remain anywhere currently for too long, he could be at any one of half a dozen locations. I can arrange for someone to intercept him at first light-’

‘There’s no need. How fast can we get to the north shore?’

‘I already have people preparing what’s required. What I need to know is how capable you are of communicating with Max when the time comes.’

‘I think I’d like a canteen of this enhancement compound to take with us. With your ability for me to draw on and the reduced distance to Max it should be very effective at securing a quick and dirty bond.’

‘I’ll get Edward to bottle it for us once our traitor is dealt with.’

‘What will happen to her? Will Darkworth treat her well?’

‘She is a conspirator with the Sisters, who are not our immediate enemy. However, she cannot be allowed to be privy to anything now that transpires, we don’t trust anyone except ourselves and Silas. He will deal with her. She may yet prove useful if willing to co-operate.’

‘And your feelings for her?’

‘I would be lying if I said my devotion had laid with her for some time. You must know that.’

There is no time left for further emotional distraction, at least until such time as the Seed is secured and safe. In her mind the man is uncomfortable and hungry, but vastly relieved at being freed from the Palace. In time she is convinced she’ll find a way to use Direction to ascertain more.

‘I can work on forging a bond with Max as we travel north. Don’t worry, when the time comes, I know exactly how this plays out, and where. We’ll need to take the Ferry at Cross Keys. I’ll also need Darkworth to provide some specific anaesthetics before we depart… oh, and I could use a blowpipe. Because you know, old habits die hard.’

‘I think that’s all doable. Anything else?’

‘I would like a chance to talk. To you, unhindered.’

Daniel’s mind shifts as she appraises him, events being subtly reordered, and she knows he won’t respond: not simply does he have no idea where to start after five years, there are echoes from the message that she carries splintering throughout his consciousness. What she’s shared affects other parts of his brain, causing reactions he’s trying his best to suppress in her presence. Their intimacy is not at an end, that much is already apparent, but what happens after that is no longer dependant on the other.

Hilltop is acutely aware the Seed ties all three of them to each other.


==

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

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Scattered Black and Whites

I'll be honest, I don't remember a lot about my first year at College.


Nice legs, shame about the face.

There are pictures, of course: that's one of them, a self-made costume that I remember being particularly proud of (Christmas Tree Fairy, before you ask ^^) I can recall watching 'Moonlighting' on a battered black and white TV owned by my roomate, falling off a barstool after too many cheap Pimms in a Student Bar promotion. Everything else though, not so much memory really remains. I lost a lot of it, I now know deliberately. I was arrogant and stupid and really not a good person to know back then. I don't remember how I felt at the time either, but there were moments that I think, actually, I did the right thing.

It was also the point in my life that I can look back on now and grasp were the first days I realised something wasn't right in my mind, but it took me a very long time to even grasp this was something I could deal with, or that it was actually a problem. In amongst those pictures and moments there was a point, probably the later part of that first year, when someone decided they knew what was wrong with my life, and tried to help me change.

They attempted to convert me to religion.

I attended a Church of England College: not because of God, but because of the course I wanted. I can remember a few details about the girl who latched onto me, because that was what it was: persistent, unending and slowing soul-destroying. The girl with sandy blonde hair, the round face and the glasses. Her politeness and friendliness, a counterpoint to my unhappiness, inability to make friends, the issues I'd have sometimes getting cross and introverted. All of this was because I could not accept God into my life.

One day, the persistent pushing came to a head: she followed me to my room, and wouldn't leave. I got angry at her and she used it all against me: accept God into my heart and I'd feel better, everything would change, and my hatred would leave me. I got progressively more irritated: I didn't want God, and she needed to leave. With no phone to use to call anyone, alone and now actually frightened, something altered inside me, and I found myself with a choice. How did I get her to leave without attacking her physically and making myself in my mind no better than she was by simply refusing to believe that I believed that God was a metaphor. Nobody could help you with your problems. The only person who you could rely on was yourself.

In desperation I started hitting my head against the wooden window frame, over and over, screaming at her that God wasn't my problem but she was. She didn't try and stop me: when presented with my anger she froze. Her God didn't help her deal with the reaction, her assertions that she cared when in reality she was like everybody else.

When I eventually drew blood, she panicked and ran.

The following morning I couldn't see and fell over as I got out of bed. My room-mate saw the gash to my head and took me to the Doctor, who called an ambulance. When they asked me what had happened, I lied because I was afraid of what might transpire if I told the truth. One session in A&E later I was back in my room, diagnosed with a concussion.

The round faced girl with the glasses never spoke to me again.


Happier times.

There is a ridge on the front of my head, close to the hairline, the mark worn into my skull self-inflicted, so I didn't turn and attack her that day. It was easier to hurt myself than try and get her to understand. Her desire to do what she thought was right was a passion I'd never encountered in anyone before... yet at the crucial moment, she was as frightened as I was. If she'd have the strength to stop me, to actually show she could help, then maybe things would have been different. What I do remember, with a clarity that now surprises me, is that I challenged her to explain how a God would allow people to hurt themselves if his love was so encompassing. If he cared about everyone, he'd save those who needed him most.

==

Let me be very clear: if God is important to you, I will ALWAYS respect this. All I ask of people is the decency and understanding that they do the same regarding ethics and ideas that matter to me. Except, as I discover, this doesn't happen with everybody. In fact, sometimes, people decide that the easiest thing to do in difficult situations is just to run away. This happened to me yesterday, and although unrelated I find myself wondering what has to change in some people's minds to understand that the World is bigger than themselves.

Maybe some people never do, that's the problem, and I should really stop worrying about the things I can do nothing about. On reflection, this is probably a good idea.

Personally, I'm glad I finally found my own way to be comfortable with what I really am.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Dead in the Water


*sigh*

I'm putting this here because it's probably the best place to get everyone who needs to read it/cares about this to take notice.

There won't be any News Podcasting until Wednesday, March 4th due to a combination of health issues and related Doctors Appointments, plus a very real lack of copy editor until the start of the month. I will stick a message on the appropriate website shortly, but I cannot put off the issues I have any longer and try and work around them. There is also a very significant bunch of RL to be dealt with and I cannot avoid the inevitable in so many places.

On that point, I have three scripts for the Gaming Podcast in various stages of production, none of which I've been able to complete to a standard I'm happy with. As a result I'm planning to finish the last four in the sequence by Saturday, February 28th, release them all in one hit and then see where I stand because at this stage I can't see any further past getting these done. Needles to say, if I'm ever stupid enough to do something like this again I'm planning it far better. Oh and I'll make sure I talk to far fewer people ^^

The reality is that I'm struggling to do all these things simultaneously, and I don't want to stop writing blog posts because of the long term benefit this has on my mental well-being. As a result, I'll simply have to make do and manage, and you guys will just need to be understanding.

I hope you can do this and be patient as a result.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

You Wear It Well


<--- Column A  Column B --->

So today, I went through a systematic cull of all the wastrel junk in my Social Media accounts: no, just because I mentioned Ryan Reynolds a week ago doesn't mean I want pictures of him, puny robot follower. Then there's the author using Twitter to sell their book who bought the first 5000 followers as a shrewd marketing ploy... and so it goes on, the endless list of people who are simply here to make the quick buck. I get that, its okay. Then I notice the Unfollowers, and I spend a moment working out why they all left. I know why she departed: I swore too much, talked FAR too much and I bought a realism into her timeline she's too scared to admit exists on her own. Then he went because after hitting a a magic number of followers you want the one game I talk about clogging up his feed...

Do I overthink all this shit? HELL OF COURSE I DO. That's the point of Social Media.


Because everybody has to flounce sometime...

Social Media's many different things to a wealth of disparate social groups. Depending on your age, profession, place in the World and love of (insert name of actor/music combo/sports team here) it has a myriad of uses, or potential abuses. For me, it's my Muse. It is an incredible tool for crowd-sourcing ideas. It allows you to gain a unique insight into how people work and think when they're communicating in a restrictive format (which is especially true with Twitter.) However, what is becoming increasingly apparent is that some people can't cope with the notion of reality in their feeds, and by that I mean the realisation that because this is SOCIAL media, that involves inevitably reacting with the rest of humanity. You know when Facebook asks you if you know people before you friend them? There's a reason.

That means that however great you might think my blog posts are, when you have to sit and listen to me on a daily basis, one of two things is likely to happen.

a) You realise that the post you read wasn't a mistake. I really am this tetchy, grumpy, passionate, opinionated, insane and ultimately FEMALE. All of this is not a problem to you, and you decide to stay. 
b) You realise that the post you read wasn't a mistake. I really am this tetchy, grumpy, passionate, opinionated, insane and ultimately FEMALE. All of this becomes a massive issue when I say summat the rubs you up the wrong way and makes you think 'screw this I'm not listening any more' and you decide to leave.

JUST DON'T ^^

And there it is, more or less. There was the lass who left over what was to her an utterly thoughtless comment but on reflection was spot on the money. Then there were the number of misunderstandings that were cleared up but were in the end convenient excuses for departure. Oh yeah, and at least one guy who got upset when I wouldn't be told how to think... some might think it's dangerous to remember all of this, but actually I see it as a long-term path to enlightenment. There are those who grasp the future, and others that choose to remove reality from the equation and pretend that the rest of the World doesn't actually exist. As it happens, this is entirely understandable, and there are those who will suggest that sometimes, you don't want everything, all at once, because that exposure has the potential to be detrimental over time. In fact, many people will tell you that actually, making better decisions is based on understanding your references.

It could be utter bollocks, that's going to depend on the individual. The key is embracing what works for you. For me, this is the best its ever been. Yeah, even the upsetting shit is better than it was because what I've learnt via all of this in the last few years is how to more accurately express what I am, and that's by embracing both reality and unhappiness. Yes, you can pretend all the bad stuff doesn't exist, but ultimately that's a lie, and lying to yourself is never going to end well. The trick is finding the balance, and only recently have I grasped that actually, it does go both ways. I don't need to keep people who perennially wind me up in my feed, and I won't suffer from being any less than I am if I choose to stop listening. Does this mean I have become the thing I hate? I'm not sure. Everyone has limits, and tolerances, and knows when it is time to stop. The measure of your ability to be a good person? Listening and learning, I think.


CAT IN TIE :D

In the end, it's just a bunch of words on a screen.

Except, for some of us, it forms a personal journey to redemption.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Sayers ::
Two Out of Three (Six)


More smut incoming soon ^^


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 blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations 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 reality of the moment galvanises Max, pulling him away from the window. He may soon be rescued, this event could easily be a distraction created for his benefit. He needs to be ready to leave, and quickly.

Without thinking he is at the main closet, opening both doors, dimly aware that if anything of his remained it would be well hidden from sight. Right at the back, concealed behind several pairs of boots, is a leather bag. He remembers instinctively this is very old and not been touched for some time. Possessing foresight enough to to first grab a pair of what he’s sure are comfortable trousers and a loose blue shirt, he dresses before rummaging in the holdall. At its top is a wooden soldier, painted in the colours of the Imperial Guard. The infantryman was a present from his father on his 10th birthday.

His parents.

Two shots echo within, past and present intertwined: Max knows why the sound strikes such fear into his heart.

Again he is close to tears, wracked by fear and anger simultaneously: a sore head swims. She calms concern in a heartbeat, despite obvious fears of her own. Placed inside to protect him, there is something else at play, unexpected consequence of the original action. Her body’s warmth compels, hand at his face, lips to his neck, weight above that pins him below. Reciprocal desire immediately fuels his mind to remembrance. The folder on the bed is his, and needs to be read. Sit and do just that.

You preserved the past for a reason.

The revelation is sudden: this folder isn’t a surprise to him. It was his own hand that crafted the container, constructing with vellum and glue, binding the cover to the base. He moves to the bed, blocking out the mounting chaos outside, and stares at his own handiwork with incredulity. The flap is closed with a large seal, not wax but denser, yet smelling oddly perfumed. His fingers tingle, running over the compound, curious feeling this is out of place even on a folder made from scratch. Without another thought he breaks open his legacy and begins to read.

The folio is full to bursting, articles back as far as five years before what Max thinks is the current date, though if honest he's not a hundred percent sure when now is. Staring at his own work is unsettling: clippings and articles compiled with meticulous care, each stuck to sheets of parchment and annotated in remarkably neat longhand. Fingers trace the words, willing himself to remember. The months after the Coup, Korrina’s first pregnancy, the uneasy peace he now knew they maintained before the inevitable miscarriage.

In his hand is the front page from 'The Voice of Reason', the only newspaper the Junta allowed to remain in circulation when it took power. The headline screams in massive dense black text: 'Sayers Sensibly Approve Alliance with Government', under which is a hand drawn picture of two people: Max shudders at their closeness, even in illustration. The dark haired man in uniform is Marcus Maximus. To his right is Korinna, unsmiling and severe.

The text of the article is compact and hard to read: the Voice deals with only a particular version of the facts. The accent is on glorification of the Military Government, considering the Sisters as part of the New Order, giving no details on anything except how Marcus sees the future. Korinna agrees with pretty much everything the General says, is excited at taking the Order forward after it's 'difficult time' pre-War. Max's memory sparks at connection: the Sisters were divided by a moment of schism. Korrina was part of a group keen to work with the Military. The older, more conservative branch decided their new leaders were not to be trusted.

‘This is not the true path we must walk.’

Two dimensions breathe and expand, slow blooming of the portrait: monochrome into colour. In front of startled eyes the paper world wraps Max in its embrace, dragging him into the headline’s picture, captured by a young man with chalks and parchment. The building behind this backdrop is of more interest, ancient church with twin twisted steeples. Here stands the Sister's High Seat in the Capitol, place of warmth and industry, before the days of oppression and revolution. Max swoops up and away from the artist, on swallow's late Summer wings, before landing in the pews; hopping effortlessly to the mind of another, as white-robed women laugh and joke obliviously around him. The Sister who tends the wounds of an Assassin smiles as he passes. Another gives bread to the poor man for his family and nods at the presence, clearly recognising him.

Then there is a third, who beams at his approach; pointing away to a corner, behind a tapestry. Max ducks beneath the depiction of the First Legion’s arrival, rapidly running down steps not as man but boy, home stone staircase worn by age and repetition, happily heading for breakfast with his parents. Past and present merge and fuse until a massive hole appears; there is no time to stop. Desperately Max attempts to prevent his fall, holding onto something, anything before he tumbles, unhindered into darkness, without fear. He is not alone, after all.

She remains within, constant and silent. Her strength assuages all anguish.

He hits the ground with a thud, rolling into a small stone room. A woman's portrait hangs on the wall opposite, older than anyone he can remember seeing ever, posing on the Divine Seat in the robes of the High Sister.  She remains both enigmatic and beautiful, intelligence and gravitas apparent even in what Max finally grasps isn't his memory, that somehow this image has been given to him through reading the article. Yet again the world blossoms, portrait into reality. The woman lives in this prison, carefully hidden from the World.

She knows who he is and what he will become.

She stares at another, Max grasping this is the recollection of someone else. Rudge. He was a significant figure pre-Coup: not a Royalist, certainly not a fan of the military. Sent into hiding, to wait for the moment he would be drawn into play.

His complicity draws him further towards the Sisters…

This woman is Anastasia, head of the Order whom Korinna replaced after her stabbing during the storming of the Palace. Except she wasn’t murdered, far from it. Max knows this moment is presented for a very distinct purpose. He understands his wife is deceit incarnate. Her punishment is already assured. The older woman has predicted it.

'The lies the Junta perpetuate will eventually lead to their undoing. This we both know to be true. Claiming I was fatally wounded in the attack on the Palace was an opportunistic lie by one of our own. That will never be forgiven, but we know too that this has been predicted. The world must now believe us dead, as it was written before.

We will wait, and bide our time, and when the moment comes, we will be ready to return the Sisters to their true path.'

Max can smell something odd: what remains of the folder's seal appears to be disintegrating. He watches in unusual fascination as blackness forms at its site, whirlpools of collapsing and reducing matter. Even the motes of dust around him are sucked into the reaction, vortexes which vanish as the compound evaporates. Looking back at the bottom of the paper words rise up before him, morphing, rearranging themselves before returning to the page below, spelling out a simple statement:

Trust the Daughter of Alfred.

Max has seen this 'magic', as it was believed to be for so long. Images awakened in his brain, the mixture inhaled from the seal assisting his recollection. There is no mystery in the Apothecary’s work, when understanding which compounds must be combined. The wonder of science moves beyond the Signal Stations and steam-power, into the darkest recesses of the mind. This he knows only too well from his wife. Rudge's memory will have been placed within before he was drug free, waiting for the moment to be activated with the compound. Now, more than ever, Max resents the sickening truth that freedom is no longer his own.

Turning a page, he is confronted by somebody else’s bold typed heading: The Iliad, organisation declared illegal a year after the Junta took power. They despised both Imperial and Military rule,  remaining mostly toothless in their activities. Crucially their numbers crossed all major manufacturing and service Guilds. Acting as arbitrators of disputes, means for disparate tradesmen to connect and interact, their knots tied so many threads together: lines across multiple pages, countless illustrations. As Military might had slowly strangled the life from the country, their influence had quietly strengthened.

Another newspaper is glued to the sheet, far less dense than the Voice, prominently displaying the Iliad's Seal at it's left side. There is also a symbol Max doesn't recognise to the right of the publication's name: The Future. Under the title is a strap line: Reading this Publication is Punishable by Death: The Eye is Everywhere! Protect the Secret and Secure Our Future! Uneven, friendly type peppered with victories against Military bases and installations, convoys interrupted and vital supplies stolen. There are mentions of events from abroad, otherwise restricted, and two words underlined in several places, using scarlet ink.

Green Men.

Max blinks: the two words melt and spread, under fingernails, into hands. Jade strands creep up his arms and he wonders if there should be more alarm, but the calm is unnerving. Points are drawn from his fingers, tying the past to the present. The husband lying dead outside his window. The other seal at the top of The Future. A unofficial collection of local peacekeepers and anti-militarists were the current unknown quantity. Taking inspiration from a folk legend, their name echoes a man who'd existed hundreds of years previously, using his peculiar brand of justice to undermine a particularly corrupt ruler.

Max has to hold onto the bed for support as a second implanted memory rises, wave of anticipation and awe. The entire room around him transforms into an Inn, wooden benches and tables reeking of smoke, age and alcohol. The recall is so vivid he can taste tobacco, smell sweat from those who surround him. There is a sense of existing a lot closer to home, perhaps almost outside the walls of the Palace itself. Authority here is being very much flaunted, resistance anything but secretive or furtive. Organised gatherings are totally forbidden.

The man he now stares at always liked to take chances.

'Together, we could have so much more. For too long each Guild has worked in different ways, but all of us look to the same end, a better future for every person in this land, not simply those with money or might at their disposal.'

The charismatic, dark haired individual in a green wool waistcoat addresses his faithful, packed densely into the tiny area. He's not much older than Max but had always been far fitter and considerably more confident, continuing to command an audience. His style had favoured the charismatic, gifted as a speaker, Max instead choosing to pick his moments. They had sat opposite each other in the Guild’s Capitol Headquarters: master and student, both experts in their fields.

'I know many of you place increasing faith in science, consider prediction is best left in the past, but I can see what is coming. There is only one way to end this, once and for all. If we combine our strengths, focus our efforts, we have the potential to be invincible. But time is running out. If we do not act soon, the Military's grip on our towns and cities will be impossible to weaken. If we are to free ourselves, the time is now.’

Chemicals work their magic, the Physician again providing his insight. This leader can bring everyone together: a considerable force, enough to draw Marcus’ concern. He was decent, strong and a brilliant teacher. Max writes the words himself, air around his hands twisting, moving  forename and surname together, a genuine smile on his face.

Lucius Brown.

The name warps, calligraphy to bold type, recalled from posters he's seen on every wall, as prevalent as the motivational sheets exalting the Leader’s glory to anyone who'll stop and read. He is the most wanted man in the land, the closest thing the people have to a saviour.

The two men’s friendship had saved Brown’s life.

Max’s worth to the Sisters may only be biological, but to the Green Men he is a different quantity entirely. This isn’t Rudge’s memory that reminds, but is his own and without prompting a swathe of the past blows suddenly though an rapidly recovering brain. A moment almost entirely forgotten, pushing day to night, warmth to sudden winter cold. November.

Lucius had been smuggled from the Compound. He stood and hugged his friend in darkness at the Inner Palace Wall, sudden tears and anger at the need to remove him so fast, aware of the Colonial who waited, impatient for departure. At his back was a sword, black sheath and scabbard with ivory inlay. The Lightness of Sky, nod to the dawn, that must be beaten to ensure he is away from the Capitol before the next wave of executions. Debts had been settled for many things, at the heart of it all the Assassins Guild. Brown is the only other Cartographer that remains after Marcus’ vicious cull, why the High General himself had insisted Max be restrained and guarded not simply at the behest of the Sisters.

The world slows to his hands, the inks and a missing piece of completed parchment. In his mind, Max embraces the Imperial Palace. Every exit and entrance, each door and window.

Secrets built into every wall, locked inside the brilliance of his mind, constructed for good reason.

The entire building suddenly shakes, reality knocking past aside with a thump. Max thinks that perhaps he's imagining the movement but there's a second shock, the sound of what is undoubtedly an explosion close by. Suddenly, context is an afterthought.

The room around him completely shifts, walls folding away and around his body, articles fluttering from the folder, tumbling from ceiling to floor. In amongst parchment and headlines dislodged by the detonation is a picture, of a man in darkness. Max looks hard, staggered that he's staring at himself, sitting in a small wooden box. He's wearing a completely different outfit, dressed as a Military Courier. The perspective pulls, sucking the light away, rotating around as cold hard wood appears, obviously supporting his legs. This isn't Rudge's memory, neither is it his own.

Here is something else entirely.

There is a smell, unmistakeable and glorious: early morning outside his suddenly lopsided prison. A tiny door opens, bathing the space in pale white light. Moonlight. Framed within is a woman, staring with a mixture of what Max knows is confusion and unexplainable attraction. Her face is streaked with dirt, and blood: there are tears there too, but despite all of this she breaks into a smile. All the fear simply drains from Max's body, flowing quietly away into the dark wood under his feet. When she speaks, he'll never grow tired of  this voice in his mind.

You can come out now.

An explosion in the courtyard displaces vision with force, breaking every window of his chamber and showering dust from the ceiling. He grasps that whatever was used to enhance the newspaper stories must still be clouding his imagination, but there is no more time to digest the consequences. He gathers up the papers and shoves the folder into his bag, trying to process the revelation that just hit him.

The woman in the moonlight and the presence in his head are the same person.

He already has his most comfortable boots on, looking for the plainest coloured coat he can muster when there is a crash and a shout as the door to his room is flattened, ripping off the doorframe and part of the wall in the process. Marion stands, a gun in hand, and Max does not need any further prompting. He takes her hand and is dragged out of the room, into the unknown.


==


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

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Ain't No Pleasing You






Writers.

However hard you try, however much effort you put into any given piece of work, some people will simply read what they want and ignore your point.

Live with it, and move on.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Sayers ::
Two Out of Three (Five)


More smut incoming soon ^^


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 blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations 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.


==


Stripping off the clothing he was forced to wear, Max tries to understand the person he's regarding in the cracked looking-glass is really him.

Observing for the first time in what could be years, he’s pretty certain not much has changed: appearing neither emaciated or bloated, his body is in a decent overall state. Blonde hair is longer than he’d like, still neatly trimmed in the Imperial style: he has shaved in at least the last few days, and the stubble suits him. Apart from scars on hands and wrists there are marks on both ankles he’s pretty certain come from shackles: they had to tie me to the wall. He remembers press-ups in a darkened cell, hundred at a time, because there was nothing else for him to do. There’s also a disturbing clarity back to the first day he was drugged and forcibly milked: even then, four people had to hold him down whilst a man who looked like Rudge was made to do the deed.

Heels of palms are pushed to sore, tired eyes, willing brain to focus. I need more details.

Inside himself are answers: embracing the distant scream ignored since breakfast, past slams painfully into his present. Sharp impact draws blood at his temple, Korrina's throw remarkably adept at incapacitation. She hurls a torrent at his body; hairbrushes and slides, bangles and necklaces, anger incandescent and unbridled. He is a fucking joke, a bastard, without feeling or remorse, unable to fuck her correctly. A waste of air and space and thankfully no longer necessary. They will take his seed, and punish Max mercilessly for his arrogance. The one thing he desires above all else will be taken, never to be returned.

You are an object only. No-one will care again.

Nobody will ever love you.

Panic rises, real and raw, but is immediately appeased, in the most unexpected of manners. A taste ignites in his mouth, sudden and reassuring. A comfort from times past, assuaging empty stomach as well as a troubled mind.

Chicken soup.

The distraction is complete and so real Max can actually taste poultry, identify potato and carrot in his mouth, able to separate the flavours as they appear. Beyond, is the sense he is not alone, someone exists within him who was not present before. This is not as it was with Marion, no force or pressure in his mind. The person is not interacting, simply existing, sitting quietly.

Eating.

He immediately feels less anxious, soothed by her presence.

Max reaches out to the broken mirror, damage caused by his own hand. Slivers in the skin, bloodied knuckles, removed with a woman’s touch. So much of life tethered to them, control and influence, he must learn to separate good from bad. Let worthy shine, untainted, whilst evil will be dark and desperate. Moved by greed, tainted by need. The Sisters are your real enemy.

An odd word rolls around Max's brain, dropping into vision with an audible thud: cravings. The High Sister blames it on the pregnancies. The need for other men, her 'relaxants', to try and remain young. Needles in her face, substances grown in the part of the Imperial Gardens the military didn't arbitrarily torch. Instead a metal fence was built, signs posted that the Apoths would never read: KEEP OUT.

Those letters label a dense glass flask, swirling ink he uncorks, favourite pen dipped deep as he begins an illustration: straight lines constructing skeletal frames around that portion of the flora, delicate black flowers in small, dense bushes. His lines, skilled hands, countless jars and bottles of pigments ordered in rainbow hues, two words traced and filled with impeccably neat cursive, calligraphy that so delighted his mother. He grasps the image, creates a moment around it as a device, clever conceit. The means to remain in control, a key to his survival.

Other words bounce, tumbling through blonde hair, elegant curls, a smile only in memory. This pain  is not from anger. Loss. Hide it away. Only good, forget the rest, erase pain and retrace the memory. Keep this instant bright, strong, redraw her again and again, over and over, so you never forget.

His mother. Faded lithograph by his bed, until Korrina took it, burnt it. Never destroying his past, only the ephemera, helpless to massacre things she could never touch. Remember Isabella. She loved you so much, told you horses were no future, stable hand not fitting as profession for a boy so artistically inclined. He should draw, but knew there was no money there either. The future was instructions, the details. Become a cartographer, the poster had told him. Max could show the World where it needed to be, where everything should be properly placed.

Staring to the right wall of this prison is damning evidence of profession, before the incarceration.

There is both wonder and acceptance at his art, the Kingdoms surrounded by water, Island of Britannia. His greatest work, piece he had been commissioned by the Guild to make for the Emperor's 80th birthday. This parchment had brought him to the Palace, and ultimately sealed his fate. The room itself bows at his acknowledgement, turns and opens, fluttering vellum sheets, folding apart every map Max ever drew in a tenure as the brightest craftsman seen in over a century. A brilliant career stitched seamlessly into a chronology cut short by one woman's obsessive greed for power.

Korinna knew he was the Seed, but her place as Vessel was a lie, most convenient of deceits to secure her place in history, to preserve her faction's superiority in their own internal struggle. She was the true destabilisation of power, path that should never have been taken but would ultimately expose the Truth.

Max had known the moment they'd coupled for the first time she was a fraud. She'd grasped his power, ultimately, to expose her. They had lived together in uneasy peace until the day she had lost their daughter, and then the World had disintegrated. In the mirror he catches the past, naked sliver of her, the night she first fucked them both.

You arrogant bitch.

He spits words in his mind, furious anger at what is seen reflected: the force of hatred is enough to move Earth itself, fracturing what remains intact of the looking glass. In the myriad splinters appear the memories of family he saw executed by firing squad, held screaming as he was made to watch. It had been hoped the action would break his will, but Max holds the past together with far stronger ties, insoluble inks he will never relinquish.

Memories remain as litany, moments filed away, indexed and copied never to be considered again: the taste of bitterness and anguish their only reminders. Everything is preserved intact, mirror the most potent of metaphors: only time will provide all the answers he craves, ability to repair the damage. His consciousness is delicately poised: to fully reconstruct himself there must be more context than he currently possesses.

He is also the much smaller part in a larger game: no actual value except in sperm. He remains a bargaining chip, nothing more. Neither Marion nor Rudge care about him as a person, but are well aware of his value as information. However, something about both is beginning to irritate, not in a way he can easily identify… only then does Max notice the dark folder on the bed, which did not exist when he’d left for breakfast.

He is compelled, hand moving to grasp when there are shouts from outside the room. Two quick concussion blows follow, then a scream, which shifts Max to the window at speed. On the ground beneath lies a man in a dark green cotton jacket, blood flowing across the pale cream paving stones on the mezzanine's perimeter. Surrounded by members of the Military Guard, a woman kneels screaming in serving robes who Max dimly recognises as Anna. Anna Tentrees, who waited on us just after we were married. A Guard tries to move her but she lashes out, fists flailing wildly in obvious incoherence. No wonder.

Max knows the Guards just shot her husband in broad daylight.

==

Alexa places the finished soup bowl by her bed, wishing there were more water.

Her head is fluid, unfixed, adapting to the new presence that exists inside. She cannot totally focus on specifics, not with everything else that must be dealt with, and there is understanding that it is not yet time to do so. Instead there are moments, feelings to consider. Her charge’s fear is assuaged without thinking, anxiety tempered by reason and understanding. The confusion is understandable too, and will pass in time.

Even in all of this, chaos that surrounds him, there is calm inside this man unlike anything else she has ever experienced. Its elegance and precision makes her ache, breathless in its construction, fashioned in such detail, annotated impeccably. Every feeling is marked and referenced to every other, coloured lines that weave and bind with a strength of brilliance. She is both afraid and compelled, primal need ignited by his hands.

One day they will move across her skin, learning the landscape, memorising her body.

Closing eyes, she watches his fingers take red paper and fold, square into triangle, whole into half. From his past is a woman’s voice to tie them, musical and magical, recalling a story known by heart but delights in with each retelling.

‘Create one thousand orizuru and you will be granted a wish…’

Two shots break the moment. Paper morphs into ink, red splashes, drips to a flood: flowing across pale cream vellum, the outline of a man surrounded by chaos.

The gunfire is real, heard somewhere other than in her mind. The threat it poses to them both is immediate and damning.

Her charge is afraid, and now so is she.

Alexa needs to be moving, and quickly.


==

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

Feeling Good




There is much excitement in the house, for tomorrow is Elbow at Hammersmith Day. I've managed to not see this band for far too long, and tomorrow this will change in a deliberately intimate gig that is already making me vibrate silently with excitement. Considering the shit weekend I've just had, the next five days is already looking rather awesome. I'd been ready for a fight this morning over the washing machine but instead I have an assessor coming on Wednesday and the promise of a new machine. The week's traumas have all sorted themselves out almost mechanically and to top it all, I now have two days next week booked and planned for getting my health looked at, securing some new spectacles and finishing off my Podcast gubbins once and for all.

It is almost as if this hard work is finally paying dividends.

If you're a regular reader of the Other Blog, you'll also notice I've gone up to two posts a day. Some of them will be new but others will be reposts of notable stuff from 'times past' because with over 2000 articles in the back catalogue, I'd now be seriously stupid not to occasionally repeat myself. What it does mean is that parts of the gaming site will get revamped and updated, and posts like today's 'How to Start Blogging' will be repackaged from time to time to remain current with changing trends. it's not like this isn't done on the Internet anyway by the entire rest of the population to begin with. I'm also going to get in the habit of writing two posts a week here and scheduling them if necessary. You can expect regular content therefore as follows:



  • Monday: FICTION DAY :D
  • Wednesday: General Discussion Topic FTW.
  • Sunday: Week in Review.


This is part of my long-term commitment to Getting Shit Done. 

On that front, there is a piece of Fiction ready for upload, so let's get to it :D

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Start


My Kitchen, yesterday ^^

My house currently resembles a low budget Disaster movie. All I need now is for Morgan Freeman to turn up and tell me this is all a test and I'll utterly believe him. Needless to say I'll be having a few choice words with Bosch Customer Service in the morning. I have a script prepared, and it is EPIC. YES I AM READY.

In the meantime, my patience for many things has reached it's limit.


STOP! Cuppa time :D

I'm now behind enough on my Podcast Project to be annoyed, and I'll do my utmost to get two episodes done this week. There is too much noise and not enough work getting done and I need to fix this, and so I am going to selectively stop listening. Please feel free to take this personally, as I am absolutely sure some people will. I will refer you to the last post, and I'll be here trying to get myself back organised.

Oh, AND THERE WILL BE FICTION TOMORROW.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Visitors


Ignore the video, take the song :D


We're already into February, and I realise I need a Social Media Policy.

I've picked up quite a few people via that there Twitter thing in January, and they fall into two distinct categories. There are those people I assume read The Other Blog and turn up with an actual, genuine interest in what I'm doing... and then there's everybody else. This includes people wanting to build their follower numbers by following me and the rest of Twitter to see who bites and sticks them back on their list. There's the You Tubers and Twitchers desperate for followers that they'll promise you just about ANYTHING to get you added to their total. Except I see through all you 'personalities' who are fuelled by algorithms. I will seek you out and remove you. I look for real people curating Feeds, and they are surprisingly easy to find. If I think *at any point* you're employing Robots to do your dirty work, away you will go.

That means, Rule 1 of the New Policy is simple:  Make me WANT to Follow you.




Often I will follow people for apparently no discernible reason. This is because I did some homework, and the person has given me enough of an online paper trail to justify my initial investigation work as being worthwhile. So, if you follow me and I like the look of what I see, then I'll open the door for communication, however if nothing comes from this I will walk away quietly (normally when nobody is looking.) I keep quite a tight rein on the stuff that goes in and out of my Feed, mostly because I actively use the format as a writing tool. This has surprised a few people in the past, and I'm now a lot more careful as to what I use in terms of direct interaction with others (via Tweets or quotes.) So, if you have a conversation with me over the medium, and then the same subject turns up in a Blog Post, don't be surprised, mkay?

Which leads onto Rule 2: My Feed, My Rules.

Says it all.

Wil has it covered, mostly. If you're gonna turn up and start throwing shade knowing you'll piss me off, out you go. If you think it's cool to try and get a rise out of me on summat controversial, you're having your ass handed to you on the way out to boot. I know how hard and cruel the Internet is, I see it every bloody day, and frankly if you think you'll get anything out of me to fuel your fire, you are very much mistaken. On the flip side, I'm getting used to offending people with my style. There are clearly those who would like to think reality isn't their issue and when I wade into situations throwing Real World chaos everywhere, they just get nervous and run away. That's cool too, I get that. This is both sides of the same coin, after all. I personally don't see the point most days in pretending that Reality happens to other people. This IS the Future, girls and boys. Like it or loathe it, you will very soon be hard pressed to even pretend to ignore it.

That then finally brings us to Rule 3: I'm not here for the Numbers.


A SEXY CURVE

I'm not here for exponential growth. I may occasionally joke when I hit a 100, or comment on a 1000, but only because I am continually amazed that I watched ever person come in and leave. I don't 'do' this Social Network the 'right' way, that much becomes more apparent every day I write. I don't have a deal with this, and actually as time goes on it becomes progressively easier for me to get a handle on bigger pictures I simply couldn't grasp before I started dealing with data the way I now do. Twitter is an educational tool, a learning curve all of it's own, and a peculiar marker for early 21st Century Life. Most importantly for me, it means the people who I really care and love are closer, even if they live thousands of miles away. That apology this morning via DM? MADE MY DAY, it did.

If you want to come play this game with me, there's only three rules to remember. Any more, and I'd get confused.