Category Archives: humour

Of this and of that; what the cat dragged in

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

It occurs to me, as an observer, that the world of “writing” is saturating the world of “reading” at least wherever computers, tablets, phones and internet proliferate. Unfortunately that is not a good thing though we were brainwashed at such an early age to believe with the staunchest of all faiths that “Competition” is what makes everything work. Even God had to put up with Satan so there would be a healthy flow of capital between the haves and the have-nots. Of note, in the case of God it wasn’t all one way either, not as we have it now in the New World Order of Rich eat Poor.

I suppose some level of competition is good in certain areas. But the nature of any art defies (and despizes) competition. Writing that expresses our humanity (not the kind used to make us better believers and consumers) is art, not a competion. Sadly, it has all become a competition as it is offered in the slave markets of capitalism. It’s turned into quantity more than quality as much of my recent forays in modern novels has shown me. There is a saturation of mediocrity and predictability. So much so that even the free stuff hardly moves at all.

About that free stuff. Free is good, particularly if it comes from people who love writing and have never thought of using their imagination to “make a living” among the capitalists selling oil, cows, toilet paper holders and coffins. Art never was, is not, never will be, a commodity to be bought and sold. When that happens, it’s no longer art.

Oh, I can hear the screams: have you never been to an art gallery where the great masters hang? My answer to that is, no. Nor would I ever. Let them hang, I have no sympathy or empathy to part with for them.

Whatever it is, when the rich buy it, whatever it was is no longer. The Midas touch destroys everything; leaves nothing natural or unsullied. The Midas touch is de facto, corruption at the highest level. I believe there’s a story to illustrate that point…

Of saturation. Part of the problem is the same mechanisms and technology that allow a thousand writers to perform on their crowded stage in stultified cacophony where there was only one declaiming his or her observations a hundred years ago. Computers, internet, instant copies, translations and transfers, digital imagery and so much more: these are the beasts stealing peoples’ time. There was TV, there still is, more pervasive than ever. I know homes where TV’s are never turned off.

There’s social media that clings to individuals like raw egg yolk as they drag their ball and chain of Smart Phones, Tablets, iPads, iPhones around so as to not miss one stupid comment, one idotic selfie, one brain dead tweet. Would these be the people who would download “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to read quietly while waiting for the [you name him or her, it’s all a waiting game these days]? That’s a rhetorical question.

We can beat our heads on a cement abutment trying for that magic touch that will make our book a best seller, possible but face it, it ain’t likely to happen m’dear.

The fault, dear writer, in not in your writing that it doesn’t catch the public’s fancy, but in the public’s complacency and laziness. Steadfastly offer a slough of gorf, garf, barf and tarf, or gross porn laced with extreme violence and you may catch a faithful if tiny segment of “the market.” Offer silly wizard stuff and perhaps some of it will filter into pre and elementary schools. Offer conspiracy theories… Offer… something, nothing .

I’ve decided I like writing my ideas down. Then I re-read them. I’m my most reliable and constant fan and critique (Well, except for Phil Huston, but Phil is on a crusade. He’s the Devil’s Advocate by calling, so we just stand well off of the path of his war horse and slashing double-handed sword and there is a modicum of blood anyone can live with. Those extraneous words that get their heads chopped off as he passes through town, they’re just pawns).

There are many advantages to being my own reader.  I don’t need to get those “Satanic” ISBN bar codes; don’t need to lace the material with copyright notices and best of all I can freely copy and paste any of it without asking permission. One has to look on the bright side of life, huh?

Some quotes to brighten your evening (here) or day (there)

Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life. — Pablo Neruda

Don’t despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don’t – surrender to events with hope. ― Alain de Botton

I think that one of these days you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. — J. D. Salinger

Out of the hobbled spirit of attachment, and the insecure need of belonging, come the gross judgments against those who do not belong. ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. — Stephen Hawking

Be like the bird, who // Halting in his flight // On limb too slight // Feels it give way beneath him, // Yet sings // Knowing he hath wings. — Victor Hugo, “The Bird”

At times but more frequently now, I find myself enclosed, surrounded, imprisoned on all sides by a growing excess of civilization – paraphrase from “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart. (Publ. circa 2010)

PS: Of Gary Shteyngart: I have no idea how this guy’s work got through… and I had no idea what I was going to be involving my mind in when I started reading SSTLS. Then I discovered it was quite prophetic of the Installation of “The Donald” as Tweeter Head of the Bi-Partisan party, no, I mean not yet, still the Repugnican Party as of today. The story describes a near future dystopian New York, and is carried along by a strange love affair between two most incompatible yet totally compatible people: Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park. The story also shows an America in tatters, militarily defeated in Venezuela and other South American sovereign nations with the EU turning to the East and China now in a position to demand payment for those trillions it invested in America.

Have a look at the write-up on WikiP.


The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I, The Calling: Chapter 19


Finally, I think I’m caught up on the blogging scene. I’ve read how to write better; how to improve my health; what to do in case of Armageddon; how to win a cricket match; that Russia isn’t to blame for anything; that we’re in deeper s**t than I even thought possible; how to make free electricity; how to awaken; that Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened (again) and that I’ve got to give peace a chance. That said, let’s get on with this story before it becomes “The Perils of Pauline” and Phil manifests himself on the blog waving a massive eraser and I lose all my subordinate clauses and loose conjunctions…

Chapter 19: Meeting the priest; all is set for the wedding

To Lo and Nal, it wasn’t much of a ‘town’ but to the others it was impressive as towns go. Not only the large church that sat imposingly in the centre of the main town but the shops, so many shops, and people everywhere. There were people on horseback and horse-drawn carts clattered on cobble-stone sections of the main street hauling various merchandise. At an open air butcher shop women were haggling with a portly butcher over the cut meat and the hanging geese and chicken. After each left with a purchase, she was replaced by another just as eager to haggle over the prices.

Children ran wildly through the filthy streets, yelled at by the adults whom they splattered when their bare feet slapped into puddles of stagnant, stinking water.

As Ian and his group walked deeper into the town, most people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stared. The men were particularly attracted to the three young women, the two tall imposing light-haired ones and the short, small dark one. But the main question on their faces was, who are these armed people and what do they want here?

Then some recognized MacGruder and greetings were exchanged. Women came forth to greet lady Jen MacGruder and their daughter whom they had not recognized so grown up she was. They were introduced to Lo whom they openly admired, and the two other young women, Genti and Deanna. Ian ventured the news that they intended to have a wedding here in Glowmere between the two travellers who were trading friends of the MacGruders, from the south. He announced that Nal and Lo, whom he singled out, were to be united in holy matrimony at the kirk if the priest was in agreement.

The news was greeted with a loud cheer that spread up and down the main street and brought the curious street urchins forth. Soon items went missing here and there from the shops and stalls as the cries of “Thief, stop him!” or “That miserable scoundrel, stop her!” followed by some useless chase that only left a shop or stall open to more pilfering.

“An where does one find the priest?” Ian asked politely and diplomatically for he realized such a location would be in proximity to the church. An urchin offered to lead them to the priest, for a price. Contrary to his usual parsimonious nature, Ian good-naturally accepted and paid the rascal. They intercepted the priest as he was stepping out of the kirk and getting ready to bar, bolt and lock the door.

“Wouldn’t want yer God er his saints t’ run off come night eh Father? Keep ‘em locked up, that’s the sure way.” said Ian with a large smile.

The priest, a tall, stringy sort of creature in a fading black cassock failed to acknowledge the joke. He eyed MacGruder with a frown and asked, “An what do ye be wantin’ fro’ me, mon?”

“Well Father, ‘tis not what I want, ‘tis what these young un’s here be needin’ – an’ that’d be a proper weddin’ t’would be, if ye be amenable to it?”

The priest cast a haughty look over the group trying to figure out which of them were to be the victims. Unable to decide, he turned to MacGruder and said, “They be proper Church people then? Baptized and knowing their catechism?”

“Aye of that I’m sure Father. Might not hurt ‘em just the same to have a confession afore the ceremony?”

“That is mandatory mon, and may I know whom I be addressin’ and whom the intended’s be?”

“I be Ian MacGruder, perhaps ye’ve heard of us from up t’ cottage? An’ here are the two ‘intendeds’ as ye put it: Lo ‘n Nal. Don’t know if there be any family names attached to ‘em, I reckon not.”

“Well, I’ll need such particulars for the book ye understand. We keep decent records here, not like the old pagan days thankfully gone from here, praise God.”

“We’ll get ye the names Father.” MacGruder’s voice had grown somewhat harsher and definitely colder as he prepared to haggle prices with the priest.

Having heard their names mentioned, Nal and Lo came forward and introduced themselves to the priest. Again he gave his haughty look, equally met and brought down forcefully by both Nal and Lo who would not tolerate such from a pawn of the Church. For a moment the priest sensed something that scared him and was of a mind to refuse the ceremony, then thought of the money and held his tongue. On top of the incentive of good gold, there were those deadly looking swords, bows and staffs to reckon with. It might not do to upset these and seemed more prudent to let the moment have its way.

‘I can deal with any sorcery and paganism afterwards and I certainly will.’

All three, Nal, Deanna and Lo, had been mind-focusing on the priest and heard his thoughts. Here was another dangerous enemy, certainly for Genti and the MacGruders. This priest would have to be dealt with after they settled with the Betrayers and before they carried on to further adventures, such certain to come about as a result of Nal’s vows and Deanna’s need to return to Torglynn.

As there was overt thoughts of violence and murder in the priest’s heart, Lo felt no qualm about disposing of the creature come the right time. This work might well fall to wolf and his mate he reckoned. Both Nal and Deanna agreed though Nal who had some personal scores to settle with the Church insisted she’d be involved in the priest’s demise. They left it at the stage where the priest would be killed but not who would have the honours.

Meanwhile, they agreed to let the hypocrisy of the moment reign supreme.

“Any o’ these others gettin’ married also, Ian?” Asked the priest, trying hard to sound innocent, caring, and friendly but inwardly licking his greedy lips thinking of the gold a double or triple wedding would bring, winter being financially remarkable only from the increase in burials.

“Hasn’t been mentioned Father. Must be waitin’ for spring, t’other ones eh? So then to business, time and cost? Ye’d be needin’ gold yea?”

“Gold, yea. Six ounces, weighed on the scale at the kirk. As to time, does next Saturday suit ye, Ian?”

Ian called his group together and after consulting with Jen asked them, “Does next Saturday suit ye all for the weddin’ t’ take place or ye havin’ second thoughts now? Last chance ‘fore I put down the money.”

Nal and Lo smiled broadly at one another then burst out laughing while a spark of hope flashed through young Giles’ heart only to be extinguished in the same moment when Nal said, “Saturday is perfect for us ‘n the sooner t’ better to get it done. Can’t wait! An’ Father if ye be wantin’ our clan names, I be a McBanish, n’ m’intended here, he be a MacDunit.”

“Interestin’ names. Can’t say I ever heard o’ those clans, interestin’ indeed. Saturday then, ten o’ the mornin’?”

“Aye that’ll suit us fine, that will, Father,” quickly answered Ian.

They left the skeletal priest standing there like a patiently expectant vulture on his favourite dead tree perch and Ian declared they all deserved a drink at the Wild Horse Inn, a good, friendly place, he added.

Once out of the priest’s hearing they all burst out laughing until the tears were running down their faces. Ian had to lean on a hitching post to keep himself upright.

Only Deanna failed to join, finally asking what the sudden hilarity was all about.

“Dinae hear girl? McBanish, MacDunit? Who ever heard o’ such nonsense? That was good that, truly magnificent, gal, and he slapped Nal on the back, making her jump.

Ian didn’t give his charges too much time to develop introspective moroseness that would demand another round and declared it was getting late and they had a fair walk ahead of ‘em yet.

As they were crossing the small drawbridge, Lo stayed behind to speak to the guard detail. He gave them each enough coin for a couple of rounds at the inn and was rewarded with some slaps on the back and cheers. Then in a vibrant voice he wished them a wonderful end of the day and a safe, healthy, prosperous and long life. They received his words as if they had been gifts, realizing that there was more than words in the blessing. They waved sheepishly then, thinking this was no ordinary man. They all sensed that their entire lives ahead of them had been magically blessed and the words would prove true.

Entering his speed lope he soon caught up to the group and immediately noticed that Deanna was gone and Nal was carrying her clothes.

“So she’s gone back to her wolf then? How did she manage to take off her clothes without upsetting the group?”

“We slipped into the ‘by woods to do that. She’ll inner nudge me when she needs ‘em again.”

“Let me strap those to my pack then, Nal, so you keep your hands free. It may seem silly here but remember that ultimately we are always alone, working singly, and must always think thus. Never rely on anyone else to take the point, or protect. Let them if they want to but don’t ask it nor expect it and I repeat, never rely on it.

“Keep your hands, arms and legs free at all times and your weapons handy.”

“Truly sorry, I temporarily forgot. Too much on m’mind an’ don’t push me, MacDunit.”

“Indeed I’ll endeavour not to, Miss McBanish.”

They laughed, hugged fiercely and kissed again.

Don’t look at me like that and I heard that snort. Look, I’m just writing it the way I see it. And remember, they’ve been apart for thousands of years, how do you think you would act if you suddenly found yourself back in the arms and love of a lover you knew was dead and you hadn’t seen for, say, twenty thousand years? Would you say,

“What? You again?” or

“I really wasn’t expecting you back this soon.” or

“I hadn’t planned on this; I have a life now.” or

“Things getting too boring for you, decided to come back?”

Right, I didn’t think so. More likely there would be sparks, maybe a flame, and hugging and kissing would just be the breeze that sets everything on fire. So put up with the hugging and kissing and let me go on with the story, which by the way is turning out pretty good, in my opinion, if I’m allowed to have one.


This and That, Why Not?

As you may  have noticed, er, hm, I’m writing a story that seems to be turning into what is called a novel.  Why a novel?  No idea except that it’s not a novel idea.

Anyway, be that as it may and all the rest of the massacree, once in a while it’s good to just stop.  Catch your breath, stop chasing after those characters who can run circles around you and disappear in the blink of an eye and you can’t find them again.  So, I got ’em where I want ’em and I’m putting on the brakes and taking a break.

That being said, I found some questions in “THE” note book that I want to share, maybe get some feedback.

“Is an unenforceable law still a law?”

“If it is enforceable but no one wants to enforce it, is it still a law?”

“Is an idea that is in words only a valid concept?  or  Does it gain validity only when it is proven that it can be applied and that it works?”

“The future is not an extrapolation of the past, it’s doing things differently.”  Does that mean that when we don’t do things differently we are not moving into the future but living in the past?  I think that question is loaded and demanding scrutiny.

And a quote that most can probably identify with:

I look at my past life as at a field lit up by the sun when it breaks through the clouds, and I note with metaphysical astonishment how my most deliberate acts, my clearest ideas, and my most logical intentions were after all no more than congenital drunkenness, inherent madness, and huge ignorance. I didn’t even act anything out. I was the role that got acted. – Fernando Pessoa

And that’s all folks!


The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part VI


continuing with the fantasy novel…

Lo returned to the cottage, entered quietly and barred the thick oak door. He walked up the stairs carefully and entered their bedroom. Nal was still sleeping as soundly as



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Much later, sated and sound asleep, lost to this world, they were awakened by a loud knock on their door.

“Dinner be served. We’d be pleased if ye joined us.” They heard the woman’s footsteps leave their doorway and clack down the stairs. Time to arise and face whatever would be served next, of food and adventure, both certain to come.

End of Part VI

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff-part V

Therefore continuing on with a story I sincerely hope some of you find entertaining, perhaps even intriguing (I dare hope!) I’m introducing this part V with an interesting quote:

Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” — Flannery O’Connor

They began to climb in earnest then as the hills became steeper and lacerated with glens requiring the agility of the sheep to get in and out of. Although the sun was weak, it being winter, they were sweating in their heavy leather coats and pants. Their boots began to chafe and Nal removed hers, choosing to walk barefoot. Soon Lo imitated her and they laughed at their dusty, grimy feet. The ground was dry but not hard on their tough soles and the rocks were smooth and flat. Obviously both of them were quite comfortable walking barefoot. The sheep marched on up eagerly, sometimes braying and listening for answers. Then move on again. Obviously they sensed that the rest of their herd was in the neighbourhood.

Suddenly the sheep stopped, all ears pointing forward. As suddenly Lo and Nal armed themselves, knelt down behind the sheep, and waited also. Five men erupted from a small dip in the hillside, armed with bows strung and notched. Nal responded by pointing at one man’s heart then slightly lifting her bow to adjust for the drop. The men couldn’t shoot without hitting the sheep so tried to frighten the herd out of the way.

That’s when Lo called out to them, “We’re returning your sheep, can’t you see? We found them wandering by a creek about eight miles below. They had been chased by a pack of wild dogs. Send someone down if you want, you’ll find the dead dogs. We have no interest in your sheep, we’re seeking a pass to get to the sea and the port there. Will you let us pass?”

Meanwhile Nal had slipped down and found a convenient rock to hide behind and setting up her usual arrows, got ready to dispatch the men if they proved unwilling to give ground.

She called out, “I’ve got you sighted. I will have at least three of you dead before you can respond, and I will get the rest of you. I’m Beanna the archer, you know my name and my reputation with bow and sword. Don’t be idiots.”

“Beanna? It’s that a trick. Beanna went south for the winter three months ago. You’ll be sorry for lying to us!”

“No Cedric you fool, you’ll be the sorry one. I got married, I came back with my husband Lo here. You hurt him and you will experience the full extent of my wrath, mon. Put your weapons down and let me show myself so you’ll know it’s me. Guy? Lil’ Cos? Listen to me now, you don’t want to play this game with me.”

The bows were lowered and Nal came out from behind her rock. Lo stood up but kept his staff firmly in both hands as the shepherds or whomever they were still held onto rusty cutlasses. He felt truly sorry for them when he saw their pathetic weapons. Both he and Nal walked slowly towards the five men, who it turned out were really two men and three boys.

Finally, the weapons were discarded and both sides introduced themselves. The shepherds were the two men, Cedric and Guy, the three boys, Lil’ Cos, Giles and Roland. They wore sleeved leather jerkins and typical but non-tartan long kilts and high leather boots. Their worn and cracked sword sashes were of leather and worn over their right shoulder, bow and quiver on the back. Obviously these men, though ill armed, had received some basic guard training.

It was Cedric who first spoke, and he addressed Nal, as Beanna of course. “Married now, are ya, gal? That news is going to break the heart of a dozen hopefuls in these parts, including mine.” He looked at Lo and winked lasciviously, hinting at some understanding between men and a pretty and very desirable lass, as in, maybe we can do business?

Lo, not at all familiar with the local ways, let Nal do the talking. She spoke in a sing-song accent he found pleasurable to listen to. Obviously this was her home, or had been for some time. She talked a blue streak about certain individuals’ health; a cottage being rebuilt; a baby that hadn’t been well when she left which sadly had subsequently died; the current priest or preacher for the kirk; the clan’s movements against a growing threat from poachers; some girl’s upcoming and disputed spring marriage to a chief’s son; and things he did not understand at all.

Finally he tapped Nal on the shoulder and asked her if she could find them food and a room for the night.

“Just catching up to some news and gossip from home, Lo. I will inquire about room and board.”

This she asked in a strange dialect he understood not a word of. She gestured, pointed to a hill, laughed then turned to Lo.

“There’s a large cottage up ahead behind yonder hill that has an upstairs room we can rent. They’ll make us our meals, all for a price, not cheap. How are our funds in gold? These people don’t deal in local currencies as their value changes with the weather and invasions. It’s sheep, or gold, and we’re a bit short on sheep at the moment unless… no, wait.”

She spoke to Cedric in the same dialect, raising her voice once or twice, pointing at the sheep, and the trail they’d walked up. He recognized the word “dogs” and understood when she pulled out her sword to demonstrate. Then she turned to Lo and smiled.

“They agree, we deserve payment for saving their sheep and bringing them back. We get two ewes and we get to pick them.”

Lo looked over the herd. “Ewes, huh? How do you tell them apart? They’re all just bundles of stinky dirty wool!”

“Boy sheep, girl sheep, Lo. You don’t tell them apart by their wool; you have to check their equipment, or lack thereof.” She laughed at him.

“I was teasing you. It’s so nice to see and hear you laugh, Nal, it pleases me so much. Why do they want us to take ewes?”

“There are no spare rams; it’s winter and meat is at a premium. The rams go first except for those needed to service the ewes. So we get two ewes, one for you, one for me, for services rendered. All we need do is pick two, put a rope on them and walk them to the cottage where we will dine and sleep. Just out of curiosity, do we have any gold Lo?”

“Some but it’s another item we want to use sparingly. I’ll need two coins to melt into rings. Is there a forge around here?”

“Oh yes there is. It’s a small one, and we’ll probably have to melt the gold and forge the rings ourselves. I doubt the local blacksmith handles anything but iron. He wouldn’t know what to do with gold, probably refuse to touch it due to the liability. If he lost it he could never pay us back.”

“We’ll rent some forge time then, if the ewes will carry our credit so far. We’ll do the melting and reshaping ourselves. I’ve worked with gold and it sounds like you have also?”

“Yes I have some training in melting and re-shaping gold artifacts.”

Mocking: “Local girls’ sideline, is it?”

Ignoring his tone and seriously: “In a way. Passing raiders trust us more than the men and the boys in returning the right weight, plus we have nimbler fingers. I’ve never forged a ring though. Have you?”

“I’ve done silver rings but with the proper tools. This will be interesting.”

“Maybe I could use Allaya magic on the gold, huh?”

“That, Nal, is not something you should talk about lightly, or anywhere someone could be eavesdropping. Some places and people know about the Allay and Allaya. Remember they were once worshipped all over. Claiming to be an Allay or Allaya could be bad business, like impersonating God or the Devil. We’ve both seen people burned alive. It’s not something I care to experience, at least not because of carelessness or a loose tongue.”

“Yes, of course. I’m sorry Lo. Just a couple of days ago I was still “of the people” and such jokes were quite permissible. I accept that it no longer is. I may forget, however.”

“Yes, but try not to. You are now in process of transitioning out of your Earth roots. The faster you learn, the quicker will be your transformation and the sooner you will have access to, and control of, you new powers. You are no stranger to hard self discipline so you are ideally suited to complete whatever this is we’ve both set in motion. Remember this: in this entire world, and possibly in this entire universe, we may be the only two of our kind in existence. Sobering thought that, what do you think?”

“I don’t want to think about that side of it, it frightens me and I’m not usually easily frightened. This world, your world, well, it’s unsettling. I don’t know how to take it and when I mentally enter it, I don’t know who I am either.”

“It’s not just my world, Nal, it’s our world. It’s a world we’re creating ourselves, altogether on our own and it’s a newborn child. You must enter it as its mother and teach it, guide it, even command it. You must shape it.”

Turning her back to him and looking at the ground: “I-will-TRY!”

“I push you too hard, sorry. Let’s find our sheep and our abode, yes?” He gave her a hug and it all fell into place once again for her. They chose a couple of ewes from the herd, put Lo’s escape rope around their necks and after taking leave of the shepherds, walked on up the hill towards their destination. The large cottage was a two-story affair near a small lake. A man came out to meet them and take the sheep from them. He seemed quite gracious and happy with the payment for food and lodging. After making sure he’d get his rope back, Lo and Nal walked up to the low front door of the stone building where a woman welcomed them inside.

Only when they smelled the cooking did they realize how hungry they both were. They were shown to a second table in the large dining room and after putting pack and weapons on the floor, sat side by side on one of the rough benches and waited, just looking at each other, saying nothing. All manners of things could have been said but there were others around and beside, Nal’s mind was already reeling from overloads of information. So they took the time available to make love with their eyes.

The boys, Giles and Roland, came into the room and seeing Nal, came over and asked if they could sit at their table.

“There’s wolves about so we’re told to keep the herd in the big barn tonight. We’ll eat here, then sleep in the barn. Mind us eating with you?”

“Nal?” She nodded to Lo and replied, “No, that will be fine with us but we’re quite tired and mean to retire as soon as supper is done.”

Roland: “You don’t have a ring, Beanna?”

“Actually when I got married, I also changed my name. We didn’t think Beanna was appropriate any longer, due to my reputation. My name is Nal. The reason I don’t have my ring, and neither does my husband is, we had some hard times, we needed the gold, so we sold them. We would really like to have rings again though. If we found some gold, could we have new ones made at the forge?”

She made her story sound so believable and told it so smoothly that the two boys were completely taken in. What reason would they have not to believe her?

Giles: “Your name is Nal? That’s a strange name, that is.”

“For around here, I know, but not where we were at the time, far into the south. We heard it was the name of a princess on the continent and Lo wanted to marry a princess. So I gave him one!”

They laughed at that story, it was a good one. Still, young Giles moon-eyed Nal, not quite willing to accept that she was now lost to him and his boyish hopes.

Roland: “Won’t be easy to find any gold around here this time of year. Not many travel the highlands for fear of sudden snows and bandit raids are more common. You could try to lower village, down in Glowmere. There may be some gold for sale there or even rings.” By way of explanation he added, “Winter, many die.”

The food was served along with stout and after appropriate grace given, all attention went to eating. After the meal and both Giles and Roland had lit their pipes, a subdued conversation started again but soon waned. Nal was almost asleep when Lo nudged her, gave his regrets to the shepherd boys and they both walked up the solid wooden stairs to the upper room that would be their first bedroom as a married couple. The door was wide open. He held Nal back from entering, and after gently placing her weapons’ bundle on the floor, and likewise his pack and staff, he picked her up and carrying her to the bed, put her down slowly, carefully, as if she’d been made of fine china.

“My wife, you are the second, in time not in value, most precious bundle I have ever had the pleasure of carrying in my arms. May the joy you give me in this moment endure into eternity and may I never have to spend a single day away from you.”

“Oh darling Lo, thank you. I desire nothing else for myself either.” She snuggled into the warm bed that had been heated with hot water bottles. “Help me undress?” He did so, admiring her small by perfect female body, then turned to retrieve their belongings and put them within easy reach. When he returned to his bride, she was already sound asleep.

He smiled to himself as he covered her and as was his habit, went to the dormer window and opened the shutters to take stock of the surroundings. He noted the drive, the narrower paths to barn, smaller outbuildings and to the fields and woods below. He watched the water rippling on the small lake, noting with satisfaction that it wasn’t cold enough to have frozen it over. The reflected starlight danced on the water. He heard a wolf give one lonely cry, and an owl respond. Strange, haunting country, he thought to himself, but certainly not lacking in natural beauty. As to the people in it, he wasn’t so sure.

He reached into his pack and brought out the little orb, held it in his right hand and enclosed it with his fingers, turning his hand over. Then it all happened as before. He held his left hand, palm out in a gesture of greeting and waited. Gradually, his hand became light from the glow of the orb but this time the colour changed. It went from pale blue to a deep red. He stared at the light, waited until it changed to a white flash of opalescent rainbow colours.

Satisfied, he put the precious out-worldly gem away and pondered the answers he’d just received. One: the pale blue meant good weather and good luck, long term. Two: deep red meant they would be attacked and involved in a bloody fight, something that did not surprise him, and there would be a fire, or fires. Three: the opalescent rainbow colours told him he had once again found his soul mate. As he had suspected, Beanna was Nal’s reincarnation as an Earthian. Having died while still entrapped within the evil of earth she could not have returned home, so she opted to stay on earth and work out her cleansing somehow. Now he had his answer also to Beanna’s deadly skill with the short bow. It had been Nal’s weapon of choice then and she never missed a target. But how had she managed to find her bow again after so many years? For he knew that no one manufactured bows such as the one Beanna/Nal possessed, in these times. Did her mother find it on that distant island she came from, and bring it to the northern continent along with her sword?

He closed the shutters and went back to look upon the small sleeping woman and found himself literally shaking with a joy he could barely suppress. He wanted to shake her awake and tell her his amazing news but realized, just in time, she would not understand, not yet. Plus, if she fell asleep rather than indulge herself in sex and the loving she so desired and obviously enjoyed, she was certainly dead tired. If there was an attack that night, she’d need all the sleep and rest she could get now.

His orb could never tell him the times of events it predicted, but he suspected the attack would be soon, likely this night, and upon both the cottage and the barn. He pictured the barn with its grass roof burning, along with the shepherds and the sheep trapped inside.

With a deep sign, another look at Nal, he took his staff, balanced it carefully, then walked out of the room, closing the door silently and went down the stairs. The fireplace was almost extinguished and there was no one around. A dog or two sniffed at the outside door. He opened it slowly, passed his hand over the two pit bulls to calm them and they followed him to the barn as if they’d been house pets and had known him forever. He pounded on the heavy door, waited until Roland, covered in straw and with sleepy eyes, confronted him.

“What? Oh, it’s you sir. Is something wrong?”

“There could be. I have a feeling we are going to be attacked tonight. I would like you and Giles to take the animals down the field and hide them in the small glen there. Keep an eye on them. If we need you I’ll whistle thus,” and he gave an ear-piercing whistle that made the boy wince.

“Aye! I’ll certainly hear that right enough. But sir, there be wolves down there at night. I’ve seen their movement, times, I have.”

“Take the dogs, they can take care of the wolves. I sense the attackers will fire the barn and I don’t want any living thing trapped in it, well, barring the rats and mice. They’ll take care of themselves.”

“You have humour sir! Pleasant you are. Here’s Giles. He answers to me. We’ll do exactly as you ask sir, and thank you, even if nothing comes of it.”

“You are a true gentleman, Roland. Arm yourselves, but be safe. Now, do you think I should bring an alarm to the rest of the house?”

“Nay sir. They not be the forgiving kind. T’were to prove false, such a move could cause enmity. The cottage has survived many attacks, sir, t’will do so again. It don’t burn, being stone and slate. If you stay on watch then you can raise the alarm when the attack begins?”

“That I will, Roland. My thanks, once again.”

{End of Part V}

The Portal of Impressions

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

We step through the Portal of Impressions and the wait is short to our heart feeling things we can know about only in this place.

I was reading just now, and it opened the Portal, oh, just for an instant but long enough for my curious mind to slip in, taking me in also. Down the rabbit hole.

Here I am, amongst Impressions. They make no sound, they just move about like smoke in a light breeze. Heavy. My reading must have attracted them.

Main impression, I’m about to die. I’m not surprised at this, it is something expected, perhaps even anticipated. Still, it manifests as heavy.

Death is a pretty definitive event. I have often wondered if preparing for it is better, or wiser, than simply ignoring it and letting it take its course.

I don’t like surprises, least of all one as portentous as death. I don’t want to be caught unawares, foolishly believing I have time when it’s all been used up.

Time and death, they are accomplices as well as liars. Time tells us we have him for all the world. Death hides in the shadows smiling at our gullibility.

Amongst Impressions nothing is hidden. All is exposed but there is no chronology here. Pick and choose, pick and choose. Listen to your heart, it knows.

Impression of imminent death passes. The silence remains. The heart beats unconcerned. I turn and the Portal opens. I walk out into the silent moonlight.

Everything falls back into place. The Mad Hatter is still in the White House. The Queen of Hearts remains at Buckingham Castle. I’m the same.

The Garbage Man

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

CONTENTS DELETED – contact me via email:  if you need this post back for reference, thanks.

Rolling, dried, sun-burnt hills seemed to stretch forever out to a hazy horizon beyond the snaking rutted roadway. Under the high, light grey cloud cover, and except for the road, nothing could be seen indicating the presence of man. Here and there a few tall skeletal trees raised their heads beyond a hill. Gorse and heather provided the only cover for man or beast. You might say it was a bleak landscape.