A little fictional inspiration...

"There is no struggle too vast, no odds too overwhelming, for should we ever fail - should we fall - we will know that we have lived."
— Anomander Rake

A Quick Note

In the Blog Archive, all the literature that I have written personally will have small quotation marks around the title, meanwhile, non-story writing that is still my own will have larger quotations marks around the title. Anything that I did not do myself will have no such markers, just so you know if I wrote it or found it. I hope you enjoy the site!

Friday, March 23, 2012

'The Wild Hunt - A Bard's Tale'

O come, ye child
My tale this eve
I harken you to heed

The night that I
Whilst walking out
Amongst the darkened trees

Did pace a road
And at my side
A stout farms-folk did tread

Of what we spoke
The tune is not
Ingrained inside my head

But what did chance
On that fell night
To cross our fateful path

Did suddenly
From out the heath
Sound off its baleful wrath

The farmer, stout
He turned to flee,
An' cursing all the way

Threw down his knife
Of glinting steel
And as he ran, cried “Pray,

The Wild Hunt
Is on us now,
If you your soul would keep

Then flee, my friend
The hounds are out
Amid the forest deep!”

But I, dear child
Alike the cat
Am curious and bold

I left the path
To quest, to find
The Hunt out in the cold

What thund'ring hooves!
And barking dogs!
Their screaming did surround!

The winded horn!
The huntsman's call
It threw me to the ground

In fear, I lay
As all about
Black fur and eyes of red!

They tore from me
My spirit-soul
And left my body dead

So then did I
Awake to find
I ran beside a mare

With skin of coal
And rearing mane
Her rider fine and fair

Be 'fraid,” said he
For now you ride
With Fey, to hunt tonight!

We seek us now
A stag, so pure
With fur of glowing white!”

And how,” said I
Am I foremeant
To take on such a foe?”

The rider smiled
Of our Wild Hunt
You clearly do not know

For our hounds
Are man and beast
And cursed with us to ride

Until the end
Of times, 'til then
They eat our quarry's hide!

As for you, sir
That you did see us pass

For now, you're bound
To witness, bear
'Til night, the sun surpass”

Then shouting, as
The screaming hounds
Converged upon a trail

The black-skinned wolves
Now man, now dog
Had seen the snow-white tail!

The glorious prey
It leapt with bound
Above a ten foot height

But as we ever
Nearer drew
Its eyes betrayed its fright

And as the Hunt
Closed in to kill
The mystical white deer

Another form
Appeared to me
A man with horn and spear

His beard was silver
Eyes were gold
And skin a ruddy hue

A frenzied shout
His spear he plunged
And then the beast he slew

The Hounds drew in
Their heads were bowed
Their Master claimed his kill

The Hunt is done
Now all may eat
Until they've had their fill”

He turned to me
With knowing eyes
And gestured I come near

His very presence
With cold, alien fear

I know your heart
Your kind is not alone

So if you wish
To ride with me
Again, then you must know

My Hunt is summoned
By a horn of
Ebony and bone

It's only found
On moonlit nights
And only when alone

But soon the dawn
Will claim the sky
Your time with us is done!

I, Haro, First
Dismiss you back
To life under the sun!”

And with that last
Foreboding word
I found myself returned

To human form
But wiser now
Of ancient hunters learned

So, now, my child
If you do seek
Adventure on this front

Search out the horn
Of which I spoke
Yet 'ware, The Wild Hunt!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

'A Game Of Cards' (Revised)

My mouth opens the instant the door whispers shut. “He’s gone,” I say, and Barry rushes into the living room, the box in his hands and a smirk on his face.

“I left his papers alone. Don’t want him to know, do we?”

“Yep. We can lay them all out on the footrest.” As I finish the sentence, I push the three issues of Time off the top of the ottoman.

“Do you think he’ll figure it out if we take the stickers off, so long as we put ‘em back again?”

I shrug my shoulders. I really have no way of knowing if Dad will find out if we sneak a peek. He's a symbologist, and just recently took a fancy to Tarot cards. But we need to hurry, because we don’t know how long he's working. He'd mentioned a possible surprise inspection at his job, but said he'd be back soon.

“You ready, Josh?” Barry asks. Of course I am. Dad hasn’t even let us see these, and we're eager to see what sort of mystic power hides between their laminated folds.

Barry reverently sets the box down, and I lean in hungrily. He lifts off the lid, turns the box upside down, and dumps the deck unceremoniously across the ottoman. Each card has a design on the back, a starry vortex of celestial bodies. Barry reaches out, but I stop him with an upraised hand.

“Wait,” I say, “why don’t we do this like a game? You know, you flip a card, and that’s your guy, and I flip a card, and that’s my guy. Then we decide whose guy is cooler, and therefore who wins.”

We don't know much about card games, and this child's version of 'War' is the extent of our experience. I pull a card, holding it upside down for a few moments for suspense, then flip it.

A cartoonish face is depicted, set upon a colourfully dressed torso. He appears to be at a cliffside, entertaining a tiny dog at his boots.

“Look,” exclaims Barry, “he has a hobo stick! That's so cool.” Indeed, across the man’s left shoulder was a staff, and tied to the end is a small bundle. Obviously I've made a good choice, picking-

-an affordable car. Not much to look at, but a glance at my meagre picnic, tied to the end of my cane, and my scraggly little puppy panting beside me, and I realize beggars can't be choosers. The dealership owner is out right now, but he'll be-

-such an interesting card, right off the bat. I notice a sticky note attached to the card's bottom. A few of my dad’s notes are scribbled on it: Starting journey, cliff equals unknown, new beginnings. Sounds like gibberish, so I lose interest.

My brother looks anxious now, and I decide to let him have his fun. I wave my hand dismissively, and he lunges for a card. On it appears a black knight, a huge scythe resting in the crook of his bony arm. A sun is cresting the horizon behind him.

“Now that,” I say, “is a freakin' cool card.” Barry smiles, obviously pleased. My card is just a normal-

-figure exiting the woods, striding out to stand with me at the cliffside. I've been in love with him for a while. He grins, gesturing with an outstretched arm and a warm smile. There is a path leading down towards a-

-scene, with no cool undead guy in it. It’s obvious Barry has won this round, so I concede defeat, taking a quick glance at his card's note. All I make out is: Change; new order; fresh start: way of life?; blessing in disguise. I sigh. More gibberish. My father never fails to disappoint.

But it’s my turn now, and plenty of options lie beneath my hovering fingers. I take the one nearest me, revealing a man with bat wings, twin stubby horns, and a sadistic grin. He stands on a crimson box, with two people, a man and a woman, chained to either side of it. They look like they're in-

-a wonderful little beach, ineffably beautiful. He slides down the bank, disarmingly charming, calling for me to come test the water with him. I'm a little worried; I need to get back to work, slave away for a few extra dollars. And I'm a little worried that his wife will find out. But it's not such a-

-terrible pain. But no, it's just a card. All this mystic mumbo-jumbo is getting to my head.

Barry stares at my card quizzically. “Is that the devil?”

“Dunno, but he sure looks demonic. But, if it is, I doubt you could top it.”

He accepts the challenge. Hesitates a moment, then cautiously lifts a card. Rocks and mortar desperately try to hold a tower together as waves crash below and lightning flashes above. Heh, he got a building. How lame is that? Although, it did invoke a certain-

-flight through the trees! I'm not sure if she saw me, but my heart was beating too fast for me to argue with it. I thought his wife was at work? Working at some tall office building, secure and unaware in stone and steel? I round another tree, his hand in mine, looking for my tent, but find an-

-unexplainable fear. I shake my head, pulling the sticky note from this newest card to study it. Change, it says. Bolt from blue; turn of fate; blow to ego: lose face? I really wish my dad would write in English. But it doesn’t matter, because from the sinking look on my brother’s face, I know I've won this round, tying the score.

I reach for my next card. It shows a man in brilliant red and white cloth. He's holding a slender wand, and before him is a table displaying a fancy cup, a star-laden pentacle, and a sword. Floating above his head is the lemniscate, the infinity symbol.

“Barry,” I say smugly, “I think you just lost.”

He doesn’t respond verbally, but his eyes simmer as he focuses on the pile. While he examines them, hoping to find a winning card, I peel off the sticky note on this newest card. It has a list of words: smooth talking, sleight-of-hand, magnetic personality. At the bottom are the words ‘The Reveal’, circled in blue ink. That last bit sounds like some sort of magic trick. This guy must be-

-a true magician, or else how could he talk people into buying cars like these? Pathetic wastes of fuel, I'd say, but when that man begins telling people about them, it’s almost as if they were made of pure gold! Striding forward, clipboard under my arm, I smile not-so-warmly and offer my hand.

“Mornin', sir. I’m here on behalf of CAA, taking a quick look around. Surprise inspection.”

“Ah, beautiful.” His voice, like honeyed syrup; his smile, dazzling. He looks somewhat flustered, though, as if he'd just hurried in to work.

We head into the shop. I'm inspecting his list of credentials while he prattles on, buttering me up. Trying to look good for the inspection, probably. I suddenly realize I'm smiling. I stop reading, shake my head, and continue. Weird. This guy just has an aura of… well, he’s kinda nice.

“Oh, no need to look so long at those. Let's move along, shall we?”

I turn to him, eyebrow raised, but before I can argue he leads me onward to his break room. He begins pointing out a few of his favourite magazines before I realize that, once again, my lips are turned upwards in a grin. Why am I smiling again? I look like an idiot.

Glancing upwards, I see a few dark stains on the ceiling. Mould is my expert opinion, and I go to jot down a note of it, but realize I've lost my pencil. I turn to ask if he’s seen it, but he's already leading me on. He really does have nice eyes.

Those eyes accompany me back to my car, and I drive off. He flashes that smile once more, before drawing a No.2 from his sleeve and twirling it about. Gah, why am I smiling again? Check blind spot, signal, change lanes. Wow, was he charismatic. My phone rumbles, so I tap my Bluetooth.


“Heya Carl, didja check out that sketchy dealership like I asked?”

“Just pulled out from it now.”

“Oh good. And ya got a good look at his credentials? I forgot to check 'em while I was there.”

“Oh, didn’t finish going through those.”

“No worries. S'long as you got a good look at those spots on his break room ceiling.”

“Yeah, didn’t really get a long look at 'em. But I made a note of it in my form. Wait, no I didn’t. Where'd that pencil go?”

A horn honks as some crazy driver swerves past. Man, what-

-a lunatic. Who wears clothes like that, anyway? And that wand looks like a Harry Potter prop. But he’s got that cool infinity symbol. Oh, Barry has already flipped a card. I lean in to check it out.

I catch my breath at first sight of this one. A beautiful, lustrous woman stares out, crowned and blue-robed, sitting squarely between two stone pillars. Each pillar has a cursive letter on it; one a J, the other, B. The colours mesh nicely with the curtain in the background. It is covered in silver and gold stars, constellations matching the back of every card.

“Who wins this one?” I ask. “They look pretty even.”

Barry flicks his glance between the two for a few seconds, and then places one on top of the other. “I just noticed,” he says, “they're in the exact same position.”

“Yeah,” I agree. “Also sorta looks as if-“

“-she won’t find out,” I whisper, moments before someone enters the tent. I quickly straighten the back curtain and gesture the newcomer to a chair, accepting the dollar bill she offers. She takes a seat, anxiety fighting against makeup for control of her face. I sit down across from her, pulling out my Tarot Deck. This is a basic reading, so I lay down seven cards in a hexagon, one in the centre. I motion to the first card.

“This card will represent your current circumstances. It is likely that this card will be positive.”

I flip it over: 'The Fool'. I sigh in relief.

Seeing me sigh, she leans forward. “What? Is it terrible already?”
“No, no, that was a sigh of contentment. As it were, you are content with your marriage, yes? Probably just began it, am I correct?” She nods, so I continue. “The Fool represents a new beginning, the start of something untainted, clean. This represents, in all likelihood, your marriage.”

I move my hand to the card on the right of the fool, flipping it up. It reveals a mounted skeletal knight, wearing black armour and carrying a flag emblazoned with ‘XIII’.

“Roman numerals,” I explain. “This card is 'Death'. It means-”

“He's going to die?”

“Not necessarily. It simply signifies that great change is going to take place. A fresh start, a new way of life. Maybe a blessing in disguise. All in all, it makes sense in the context of your marriage.”

She has settled down again, and I feel hopeful. She isn’t going to find out. I flip the next card. 'The Devil'.

“Now this… is actually somewhat humorous. This card represents slavery.” I smile and look up at her, but my mirth is subjugated by her disgust. “No, it isn’t… I was just making fun.”

She sinks back in her chair, but she looks far from relaxed.

The next card to be revealed is 'The Tower'. Now I can’t hold in my concern, and she reads it on my face as easily as I read the cards.

“What does this one mean? Is it bad?”

“Yes and no. This is the fourth card, so it represents how your future actions will affect your marriage. And The Tower, well… it bodes ill. An illusion you believe to be true is going to come crashing down.”

Worried now that The Tarot may be acting against me, I flip the next card. 'The Magician'…

“Who is that? He looks so familiar…”

No! No, no, no! A shaky breath, then, “That’s… The Magician. He represents a charismatic, enchanting person…

“Like my husband.”

I gulp. “Yes.”

She's so close to figuring out the truth! Next card, focus on the deck. But at least-

“-she's spaced out. But, whatever. Barry, who wins this one?”

“My card's cooler.”

“Yeah, no. My guy's cool. Your card has a hot chick on it, but that’s all you’ve got.”

“Why don’t we call it a tie?”

Because someone has to win, idiot. I don’t say it aloud, but I know that-

-she could figure it out at any second. With trembling hands, I lift the next card. The High Priestess. Oh, no…

“This card… this card represents someone with… supernatural knowledge…”

“Like you.”

I wrap my shawl tighter around my shoulders.

“What's that curtain in the background of the picture?”

No! There is no way she could figure it out this fast! “That curtain… is the veil between you and some secret, esoteric knowledge.” She stands up abruptly, her nervous fa├žade replaced by cold anger. She thrusts her hand down, grabbing at the last card. A savage stare at me, then she spins it around so-

-Barry will choose his next card.

“I guess you win,” I say. “That puts you in the lead, right? Two to one?” He nods, flips his newest card up.

“Aww,” he says with a sigh, “it’s just some naked people beside a tree.” Obviously giving up, he tosses the card to me so I can read the note on it. It has more of those obscure notes, but it is also titled. It says-

-“The Lovers.” She tosses the card back to the table, leaps to the curtain and tears it asunder, revealing my love, my magician… and her husband. She stands still in a moment of fierce emotion, then spits out at him, “You son of a-“

-“Dude! You ripped a card!”

Barry looks down, seeing he has accidentally leaned his hands on the table, twisting his palms and tearing one of the delicate cards. When Dad gets back, he’s going to flip. The card with the hot chick on it now has a rip going straight down the curtain. Dad might be-

-furious, eyes shooting daggers, she pulls a switchblade from her purse. “How could you! I thought you were”-

-okay with it, as far as his temper goes. But now I'm curious about the rest, so I begin flipping cards at random. First is a golden backed scene, showing a chariot and a man in blue robes riding it. I glance at the note attached to it, seeing it's aptly named 'The Chariot', and guessing from the scribbled mess underneath that it represents a struggle. The notes interpret the struggle as being overcome either mentally, or-

-physically, I am stronger than her, but her anger is terrifying. She takes a clumsy swipe at my lover, but he leaps skilfully around her, grabbing me by the shoulders and steering me out of the tent. We burst out onto-

-a giant wheel is portrayed on the next one, with animals and symbols all over it. The note says ‘Wheel of Fortune’, and supposedly relates to major changes in one’s life. What those changes are, he-

-runs faster than me. “Wait,” I huff, “wait for me!” But his stride lengthens, and I hear anguished breathing closing in behind me. Why won’t he slow down? Do our trysts mean nothing now? Isn't our love stronger than-

-“Death is my favourite card,” says Barry. He lifts the card from the table, swishing it back and forth like a scythe. I hold up the torn halves of The High Priestess, and he makes a whistling sound as his imaginary scythe cuts through it. I let go of the shreds, letting them-

-drop to the ground, blood spurting. I cry out his name, but as the knife descends again, my cries are stilled. Then silence. As my life ends, I-

-fall to the table. I lift another card for him. This one is ‘The Emperor’, and shows a regal man sitting on a throne. The note mentions something about how the card represents the father archetype, but I have lost interest in my Dad’s little scribbles. With a gleam in his eye, Barry brings his pretend scythe to bear. But even as he does, I hear the sound at the front door. He quickly begins scooping up cards, and I follow suit. We almost have them all back in the box when our father bursts in.

He sees us, and his already tormented face sinks even further. We stay motionless, waiting for him to react, but he just throws up his hands, collapsing into an armchair. He's normally a kind person, with an aura of… well, he’s kinda nice. Usually. We wait a few moments, feeling terrible, and then take seats across from him. Mom is not going to like this, either, when she gets home from the office.

“I’m going to forgive you guys,” he starts slowly, “but only because I’ve failed you more than you’ve failed me. You two remember my good friend, Iris? The fortune teller? Well, something has happened. Something terrible…”