Online Fiction

Bemused

The morning after the festival ended, Gorlen woke with his arm around a beautiful tousled harpsicle player who turned out to be his own eduldamer wrapped in a ragged blanket. In truth, he was more relieved to see he had not mislaid his instrument than he was disappointed to discover that Mistress Funch had taken off sometime in the night. She had warned him as they bedded down that her troupe must be off early, their presence required at a wedding performance in the Glisters the following week. Had Gorlen’s own road not lain diametrically opposed to all things and places sublime, he might have been tempted to follow and see if they had room for one (or one more) eduldamer-strummer. Instead he sighed and sat up, thankful for dry weather, warm nights, eight days of good rowdy companionship with plentiful wine, hearty food, and ceaseless music. Read More

Quickstone

“Are there any gargoyles in what do you call your city? Dint?” Gorlen asked.

It was a city of pillars thick as trees in a forest. From the outskirts, because the pillars were not set with any symmetry but sprang up wherever there was space to spare, it was impossible to see very far. But wherever he looked, at whatever distance, he saw figures squatting like this old man before him, busy carving chunks of indeterminate yellow matter, surrounded by dusty piles and shreds of the stuff. Read More

Childrun

The first thing Gorlen heard, as he mounted toward the walled village at the top of the rise, was the sound of children, their voices tumbling down the rutted track to greet him long before he saw a single villager. This meant his first sight of the pinched grey roofpeaks and ochre chimneyspikes above the wall came accompanied by the peculiar mix of dread and longing that he always felt at the sound of children playing. Were they laughing in delight or screaming in terror? It was an old question, and in the first and most memorable instance–when the correct answer had actually mattered–he had guessed wrong.  He had lived with that mistake ever since. It had been his sister’s voice then, yes, and he had thought her carried away by laughter; but it was something far different that had carried her off to a place he had no real desire to follow. He hadn’t understood his mistake until he’d heard the sound of his childhood home, nestled in a sandy cove along the Pavinine Coast, being crushed beneath the weight of a gargantoise that had chosen that spot and those tarry timbers for the construction of its spitdaub-and-driftwood broodpile, where it would lay its oozy eggs and nest and doze for seven days. The cries of his parents he never heard, although they must have made some noise before the witless immensity smothered them. After that, he heard only the crashing of waves, the snoring of the huge armored amphibian. It was no wonder the sound of unseen children caused a surge of emotion, for they recalled the very instant of his orphaning. Read More

Songwood

Ocean passage was never easy for a gargoyle. Most were content to pack themselves away in a carton, but Spar had developed an unusual (for a goyle) appetite for the ever-varying spectacle of clouds in slow parade against blue depths or starry night skies. Besides, packing arrangements took several days—even weeks, depending on the port and its stringencies—and on this occasion he had not even several hours to spare. If he failed to leave tonight, then morning might find nothing left of him except some black gravel fit only to be swept into the harbor. Complicating matters, the port was unfamiliar and all the ships looked equally sea-unworthy in the dark. He compared them to the crumpled list of vessels leaving that night, scribbled out by the terrified quartermaster at his request. Three smeared names matched up to three creaking candidates that chafed against the dock as if restless, like himself, to be away. But how was he to choose among them?

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Dankden

He was a clumsy bard, inept at the complex fingerings that made eduldamer strings hum so sweetly in a master musician’s hands. His musical deficiency owed much to the fact that his right hand was made entirely out of polished black stone, carved in perfect replication of a human hand, so detailed that one could see the slight reliefwork of veins and moles, the knolls of knuckles, even peeling cuticles captured in the hard glossy rock. Most of the fine hairs had snapped from the delicately rendered diamond-shaped pores, but you could feel where they had been, like adamantine stubble. His left hand was more dexterous than most, and his calloused fingers hammered the strings as best they could to make up for the other hand’s disability; but his rock-solid right hand was good for nothing more than brutal strumming and whacking. He couldn’t pinch a plectrum. The soundbox was scarred and showed the signs of much abuse, the thin wood having been patched many times over. Read More

Bellweather

“I like this place not,” said Spar.

“I can’t imagine why,” said Gorlen. “It looks like a gargoyle’s graveyard.” Read More

Catamounts

“I have my limits,” said Gorlen Vizenfirthe, hooking a full mug of cheap brew toward him with one of the petrified fingers of his stony right hand. A coarse black strand of beard-hair poked up from the foamy head like a sick fern’s frond. “And you, sir, are quickly approaching several of them at the same time.”

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Encounter on a Lonely Mountain Website

–Well, well, what have we here? Looks like one a them mainstream writers done gone and wrote himself a fantasy novel! What do you think about that, Clem?

–I think we’re gonna have some fun with this one.

–Boy, I believe you’re right. Jest lookit him. Does he look ascared to you? A mite…apprehensive? Well you done strayed right into genre territory, feller. And we don’t take lightly to you literrary types a-poachin in our woods.

–That’s right, we don’t. The last one we found in our traps, we learned him real good. He ain’t never coming out of Conjunctions again if he knows what good fer him.

–What’s wrong, feller? Science fiction too rigger-us, so you figger you’ll tackle something where nobody can call you on your horseshit? But that’s what they got them there post-apocalypse novels for, don’t they? So you can jest write your reglar stories you were gonna write, except no cars or telephones? So what is it I wonder makes you think you can come in here with your big words and your psychological realism and not knowin nothing about fantasy except that Lev Grossman wrote some and didn’t get kicked outta Time?

–You know, I think I seen this feller before…

–Why Clemuel, I believe you’re right. I seem to recall quite a few denigrating comments about Dungeons and Dragons emanating from the vicinity of his piehole, back in the ol’ halls of Ackadeem! Remember that, Clem? And here he is now, all fancied up with a sword and a wand and a hand-drawn map. Thinks he’s gonna show us how it’s done. Well let me tell you something, feller. The word “twee” still means something round these parts. And them lady elves, I can assure you they don’t warm to no antiheroes with erectile dysfunction, if you catch my drift.

–And speaking of the ladies, don’t be castin looks over at our fans now…they aren’t gonna be giving YOU any loving. Fact, if we were to throw you to em, there wouldn’t be enough of you left to throw in a remainder bin…nothing but maybe just a scrawny old spine…

–Watch it, he’s nearly bit through his foot! Settle back there, you.

–Why, don’t tell me you’re wanting to be away already? But you were so eager to be here! Not quite what you expected, hm?  Well, I sure hope you’re good with them there social networks, cause you’re gonna need em if you ever get out of here…and there’s no point calling for help cuz nobody can hear you except the New York Times. And I don’t need to tell you, feller, you’re a long way from New York now.

–That’s right…and you’re about to get a whole lot longer.

–Clem, damn it! Oh my gawd…why’d you go and say that fer?

–What? What’d I do?

–You went and gave him a sequel! You gave him an out! He’s got clean clear of us now.

–Well, won’t nothing come of it. He won’t have a clue what to do with a sequel. Weren’t never a literry writer worth his salt ever wrote a one o them.