Friday, August 26, 2011

The Valley of Tears, Part Two

Turns out this one wants to be even longer. To my dear readers, you will be treated to part three tomorrow evening! Enjoy...

The Valley of Tears, Part Two

My guide picks his way across the rocky forest floor and I follow, wiping sweat from my brow. I am unaccustomed to walking so much, but the tiny man with flaming hair steps spryly from tree to tree going up the slope and isn’t even breathing heavily. Once in a while he drinks a strange brown concoction from a canteen, but any pauses to catch breath or stave off hunger have been mine.

“You should get more exercise, Teddy,” he says without looking back. “Concrete jungles aren’t good for anybody’s well-being, be they triaum, human or hama.”

“Yeah well,” I pant, “writing is kind of a full-time gig.” I trip over a root and nearly fall on my hands. The triaum grasps my wrist with surprising strength and I am saved from earning a few scrapes.

“Alright, I suppose you could use another short break,” he says as he leans against a maple. I pull my water bottle out of my pack and down a generous gulp. I am dismayed to find that I have already consumed most of my supply.

“Don’t fret over it,” my companion says. “A triaum can find water in a desert.” There is a long-stemmed pipe in his hands, but I do not recall seeing him pull it out from anywhere. He has no backpack and just the canteen around his neck; the pipe must have been hidden somewhere in his coveralls.

I screen my eyes with my hand and look up at the sun. It is already past midday and I have no idea how far away the Valley is. It is hot even in the shade today. “Are you sure this is absolutely necessary?”

There is a sweet, unusual scent on the air. “Of course I’m sure.” He takes a slow puff on the pipe and blows smoke rings at me. “The rangers watch the entire perimeter, but I know their schedules.” He grins and offers me the pipe, but I decline. I have no idea if it’s sweetgrass or dreamweed or devilshoot in that pipe, but I know that none of them are a good idea.

“Why would they be trying to keep people out? Isn’t the site abandoned?”

He takes another puff on the pipe and points back the way we came with his other hand. “If you still think that your government is hiding nothing, I suggest you turn back now, Teddy. We are going to a place of hard truths and hidden secrets. I took you for a man who believes that the quest for truth must overcome the gnawing entropy of fear. Are you he?”

I wave away the smoke he is blowing in my direction. “I still want to know what really happened, yes.”

He smiles as he taps out the contents of the pipe onto the forest floor. “Good, because that was your last chance to back out of this. The Valley of Tears is just over this hill.” He beckons me onward and I follow.

“They will be watching for you on the way back, Teddy. You should never have told anyone about this project. Other people knew better, but you have the burden of believing in truth as a principle, and for that you certainly have my admiration.” Whatever was in that pipe, it’s making him talk more rapidly, and his gestures are even more expansive as he hikes up the hill with me trailing behind. “I want to help you, you see. Without my help the government will make you disappear and then nobody will ever know the truth about the Valley of Tears. You see, it doesn’t matter how many triaum tell people about it, nobody will listen until a human tells the same tale, and people know that you tell the truth. It’s so rare these days, don’t you agree?”

I am panting heavily, but I can see the top of the hill through the trees. “Do you trust me enough to tell me a simple truth, then?”

He grins wickedly at me and runs up the crest of the hill. I arrive beside him half a minute later, sweating buckets.

“I was the first triaum that they should have killed when they brought us here,” he says. Below us is the Valley of Tears: a green river vale pockmarked by low concrete buildings. It isn’t as breathtaking as I had hoped, but I shiver for some reason.

“Not much to look at,” I wheeze. “What secrets could they possibly be hiding here? UFOs? Are they training spies to fight the Empire?”

“Oh, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, Teddy,” my guide says as he starts to pick his way down the steep, rocky hill. “But to entice you I’ll answer those burning questions you’ve been holding so patiently on your tongue.”

“And what questions would those be?” I ask as I adjust my pack. My shoulders are beginning to ache.

“My name is Yel,” he says.

“Yel what?” I reply. Yel is a common given name for a triaum.

Yel says nothing.

I laugh. “You can’t tell me you’re that Yel. He died during the Tlaca riots.”

“Oh, sweet Teddy, how can you be so naïve after all that you’ve seen and done? You’ll have to publish two books. The second one can be called ‘Yel Is Dead And Other Lies The Government Told Me’.”

I begin to wonder if I can trust anything Yel says, or if that’s even his real name. “If the rangers patrol this area, won’t they catch us eventually?”

“They patrol the perimeter, Teddy. Nobody is allowed to look at these secrets; air patrols make sure the rangers don’t get too curious.”

I wipe the sweat from my brow. “That’s an awful lot of effort to ensure that nobody finds out about something.”

“Which just makes it all the more enticing. You think you’re the first person to come looking for the Valley of Tears? You’re just the first human lucky enough to have my protection.”

“What, are you hiding a machine gun along with your pipe? Or do you have some old triaum magic up your sleeve?”

Yel snorts. “Coming from anybody else, that would have sounded pretty racist. No, the last vestiges of our magic died with my sister.”

I stop walking. We’re about halfway down the hill. I can pick out details in the concrete buildings like doors and windows. There is a chain link fence bordering the compound that is broken in several places.

“I don’t mean to offend you, but I can’t tell when you’re being serious or not. I’ve spoken to several triaum who tell me there’s no such thing as magic.”

Yel sits on a stone and looks down at the Valley. “Any self-respecting triaum would tell that to a human, Teddy, but the truth of the matter is that our magic has been dying for centuries...and Drei was the last ember.”

“Wait, Drei was your sister? Drei the Dreamweaver?”

Yel’s smile is gone, and the fire has left his eyes. For the first time he looks the way most triaum do. He looks like a lost child. “I don’t want to talk about Drei.” He stands up and resumes the hike down the hill. I struggle to keep up.

I hear the distinctive caw of a crow as we reach the chain-link fence. Yel slips through a gaping hole in the fence and I follow. All around me are single-storey concrete buildings and well-trod earth. It is like being inside the skeleton of a city. All traces of life have been picked clean. There is a big clearing in the middle with a barren flagpole. Yel walks up to it and makes a mock salute.

“All hail this land of ours, the United Provinces!” His voice echoes off the barren walls. “Home of truth and liberty, and the land of the free!” He turns back to me. “Don’t you feel free, Teddy?”

His eyes have that slightly crazed gleam again and I look away. A part of me is beginning to regret coming to the Valley, but I still want my answers. “More than you do, I’m sure.”

“Oh, you have no idea how free I feel now, Teddy. Even a triaum can’t appreciate true freedom until it’s taken away from them...which brings me to the reason why we’re here. Follow me.” He enters a nearby building and does not even look to see if I am following.

I follow, of course.

Inside the light of the afternoon sun casts long shadows. Whatever once occupied this building is long gone; only walls, a ceiling and a floor remain. Yel is standing in front of a big metal door with a wheel like you’d see in a bank.

“They can take it all away,” he says, “but the more a thing is hidden, the more it yearns to be found. Scour something with cleansing fire, Teddy, and the ashes will remain, and oh, those ashes will be bitter.” He turns the wheel and the door parts to reveal a staircase, which goes down.

Yel knows I am too far in to back out; he doesn’t have to beckon me to follow him this time.

The basement feels unnaturally cold, and through the light of Yel’s flashlight I can see that it is just as barren as the floor above, only instead of rooms, the basement contains cells with bars.

“So this is where they kept you?” I ask as Yel leads me through hallways of cells. He seems to know where he is going. The basement is much larger that the building above it; likely it is a network connecting many of the buildings underground.

“Only those of us fortunate enough to have outlived our usefulness. Come, here is what you need to see.”

The room is large, at least fifty feet square, and the concrete is all black. There are tiny holes in the walls and two very large ones in the ceiling. Yel aims the flashlight beam at one of them.

“What are those?” I ask.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Valley of Tears

Two-parter cop-out: I'm editing at least two chapters a day for my novel, so the rest of this piece of fiction will have to wait until tomorrow. I hope everybody enjoys reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

The Valley of Tears, Part One

The inn looks just as I remember it. Nestled right up against the mountainside in upper New Hostia, the Royal Arcolia Inn is a testament to humanity’s ability to subjugate a natural landscape and bend it to their whims. The surrounding forest has been manicured into an open, inviting lawn in front of the hotel, and even the hot springs in the mountainside has been renovated to have a palatable appearance. Stalagmites and stalactites have been replaced by hand-carved clay tiles imported from Harbia. Even the mountain road has been paved, and although the Royal Arcolia is a secluded resort, it is a slice of decadent civilization carved out of bare rock.

It has been years since my last visit, and this time the Royal Arcolia is just a waypoint, not an escape from the pressures of the rat race. My real destination is in a nearby valley, a place of secrets that few people know about and even fewer dare to speak of. A shiver of anticipation runs up my spine as I think about the valley. I remind myself how much I love what I do.

I park my sedan in front of the hotel and toss my keys to the valet. I can deal with baggage later; it’s been a long drive from home and my stomach is complaining loudly. I’m not exactly dressed for a five-star restaurant, but everybody knows that if you’re staying at the Royal Arcolia you can afford the food.

The Maître D looks at my baggy flannel shirt and jeans with disdain but forces a smile and leads me through the restaurant. Although it is early in the evening and the establishment has just opened, it has a tendency to fill up quickly. I am led to a small floating table in the middle of the floor. My host is joined by a young man who pours me water as the Maître D recites the chef’s features for the evening: Duck, emperor-style with an orange reduction, hazelnut-crusted halibut, and buffalo flat-iron steak. I’m barely listening as I peruse the wine list; everything he says to me will be on the menu.

I order a gin and tonic and both men leave the table. I don’t want to decide on wine until I figure out what I’m having off the menu, and they make a mean gin and tonic here, with cucumber and lime leaves. I bury my face in the menu and clutch my stomach with one hand as I wait for the drink. The trouble with an empty stomach is that everything looks good; I don’t even like white fish but even the halibut is making my mouth water.

“Not exactly a triaum-friendly menu, is it?” a voice asks. Startled, I look up from my menu to find that somebody is sitting in the formerly empty seat across from me. I can tell right away that he’s a triaum, regardless of what he just said to me. His eyes are enormous in his slender, hairless face and his hair is a tangle of orange. It almost looks like a fire. He wears clothing even more inappropriate for the restaurant than mine: dirty old brown coveralls and a ratty t-shirt.

“I’m sorry,” I reply, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I asked for a table for one. I’m just looking to enjoy a meal in solitude, if you don’t mind.”

Instead of leaving, the man leans forward. I’ve never seen a triaum look so predatory. “Well you’re awfully polite for a human who has just been accosted in a five-star restaurant by an unwashed fairy. I’ll leave if you really want, Mister Stromach, but first indulge me a question: is it true that you’re writing a book about me?”

A part of me feels affronted, another part is apprehensive, but the man across from me has appealed to my sense of curiosity, which always wins out against my better judgement. “I’ll answer your question if you answer one of mine.”

The triaum smiles. His teeth are flawless. “I’m surprised you don’t know the answer already, being such a well-read and well-travelled man of paper and ink, but I’m afraid you have to answer first.”

“I haven’t even asked my question yet.” My gin and tonic arrives and the waiter seems surprised to find the triaum sitting across from me. My guest grabs my drink before I can react and downs it in a single gulp. He hands the empty glass to the waiter.

“Two more of these, if you would, good sir. Oh, and two shots of your best triaum whiskey for me and my friend Mr. Stromach. And...” he grabs the wine list and looks it over in the time it takes me to blink, “a bottle of the Lai’och Estates fee’och.”

The waiter looks at me with concern, but I simply nod and send him on his way. I can only assume that I’ll be footing the bill, but I don’t want to cause a scene. A man as bold as the one in front of me is likely to be dangerous.

“I hope one of those gin and tonics is for me. I’ve been looking forward to one all day.”

“Of course! To toast our new friendship, Theodor.” He gesticulates wildly as he speaks. “And about the bill, well...since you’ll soon be accumulating riches off of my story, I see it as only fair that you reciprocate with a simple gesture of generosity. Besides, what’s a few drinks between friends, eh, Teddy?”

“You still haven’t told me who you are.”

He laughs. His voice is as musical as a hama’s, and although his manner is off-putting, there is something very charming about him. “And you still haven’t answered my question.”

“I’m writing a book about the Valley of Tears. How can I be writing a book about you when I don’t even know who you are?”

The man bursts into laughter again, just as the drinks arrive. I haven’t even had the chance to read the whole menu so I have to wave the waiter away again after he does his big routine with the wine bottle. I find it funny that the waiter shows my guest the bottle first even though it’s going to be on my tab. The waiter does a commendable job of being polite, even when the triaum lectures him on how little of the money from the proceeds of triaum whiskey and wine the reserves actually see.

“Here’s to our new friendship, Teddy,” my mysterious guest exclaims as he raises his rocks glass containing the whiskey. I follow suit and the glasses touch. The liquid is smoky and bitter as it goes down, but very palatable. It would have tasted much better after dinner, though. My companion moves on to his wine, and I take a sip of my gin and tonic to take the edge off the whiskey that lingers on my tongue.

“So you’re writing about the Valley of Tears. Very commendable, Teddy, to write about such a tender subject...but I have faith that you’ll do it justice. You always look at both sides of an issue, don’t you? Every good writer should.”

I smile behind my drink. “I thought you said I was writing a story about you.”

He returns my smile, and there is both mirth and danger in his pale blue eyes. “Oh, but you are, or haven’t you figured it out yet, Teddy?” He finishes his glass of wine and promptly pours another.

“Okay, I’ll bite. A lot of triaum were kept there during the war. What makes you so special?”

Kept there? Oh, Teddy, I dearly hope you’ve done more research than that. Please don’t tell me you think that the Valley was just another prisoner of war camp. You don’t call a place the Valley of Tears to entice the tourists.”

“I know what went on. There are already plenty of books about POW camps but nobody would touch the Valley, or they skimmed over it with lies, so I did a little digging.”

“In which case I’m surprised you’re still here. So you know what they did to us?”

I can’t meet his eyes. They are not soft and warm like most triaum I have met. “No, not exactly. Few people will talk, even triaum. I was threatened with legal action if I pursued this any further, and I had to find a foreign publisher.”

“Hah! As though they would simply ask you to cease your, that would only proclaim their guilt. You will disappear if you publish this, Teddy. Unless you are under somebody else’s protection.”

I finish my gin and tonic and he pours me a generous glass of wine. “I’m not looking for protection. I want answers.”

He watches the waiter return and winks at me. “You know, Teddy, there is a triaum saying that goes: ‘never trust a human who does not ask why’. I’ll tell you what. I’ll come with you to the Valley tomorrow, since I’m sure that’s where you were headed, and I’ll give you all the answers you could ever ask for.”

“And what, exactly, do you want in return?”

“I’m already getting what I want, Teddy. You’re writing a book about me.” He turns to the waiter and orders the summer salad without cheese. I decide on the duck.

“You still haven’t told me your name,” I say accusingly.

He finishes his second glass of wine and leans back in his chair. “When we reach the Valley of Tears, I will tell you my name...and more than you would ever wish to know.”


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Channel D News




Tumu: Good evening, and welcome to the eighteen-hour news on Channel D. I’m Taho Tumu with Enora Tangi, and this is what’s happening in the world today. Our top story tonight, right-wing Ciawatcha state chief Huyana Anwatee was found shot dead today in her Missippa Ridge home. Although police officials have declined to comment at this time, many suspect a political motive for the shooting as this comes only days after the passing of State Article 397C, which effectively revoked the agreements of the Pachawanee Charter of year 142 BSR. However, as the police have declined to make comment, suicide has not been ruled out. Taka Toyashida is on the scene with more. Taka?


Toyashida: Thanks, Taho. I’m here outside Anwatee’s mansion, where earlier today a hama groundskeeper reported shots being fired. Not long after, police arrived to find former Ciawatcha state chief Huyana Anwatee dead in her living room. No other family members were home at the time. Police are still on the scene collecting evidence but have declined to comment, other than to state that Anwatee is indeed deceased. Here in an exclusive Channel D interview is hama groundskeeper Proch Vuuhi.


Translator: I was in the shed...getting out the lawnmower. Anwatee asked me to always cut the grass in the early afternoon, when it would bother the least...amount of people. She was always considerate like that. I was sitting on the lawnmower, about to start the engine, when I heard a loud noise...coming from the house. At first I thought it lawnmower, but I had a bad feeling. I ran to the house and I found her there with a gun in her hand. (Crying) She would not do that to herself and to her family. I know this. Somebody put that gun in her hand. Then I called the police, and even though they...did not know what I was saying, the cars came soon after.


Toyashida: Truly a sad day for the state of Ciawatcha. Anwatee’s assistant chief Huata Chiwanee is expected to issue a statement as he assumes the responsibilities of the office tomorrow. Back to you, Taho.


Tumu: Thanks, Taka. Channel D news will have more on that story as it develops. Now with a special Heritage Day report is Enora Tangi. Enora?

Tangi: Thanks, Taho. Heritage Day. A celebration of the anniversary of our ancestors’ arrival to this land, a chance to spend time with family rarely seen, or for many just an opportunity to celebrate a day away from work. Yet for some, Heritage Day represents something even more thought-provoking: a time to give to those less fortunate.


Tangi: For the students of Chowangee school, Heritage Day is a time of reflection and compassion. Instead of the usual harvest dances and camping trips, the students went out into the community asking for donations. Over ten thousand kwaya were raised.

Student 1: We...we’re giving money to the fairies because they don’t have a lot of food to eat.

Student 2: We want to help them because they are poor and it’s very sad and we don’t want them to be sad.

Tangi: Some people expressed outrage or disgust when they discovered where the donations were going. They say that they were not told beforehand what was happening with the money and they want it back.

Upset citizen 1: They didn’t tell the kids nothing. They just told them to collect donations for Heritage Day, and nobody’s gonna say no to a little girl with big eyes knocking on your door asking for money. Then we find out it’s going to those (expletive deleted) fairies. Well they asked for those pieces of land and they don’t want to have nothing to do with our money, they said so, so they can (expletive deleted) give back the land if they want to start asking for handouts.

Upset citizen 2: I thought the money was for school fundraising or something. I don’t mind if they want to raise money for them, you know, fairies or triaum or whatever you call ‘em nowadays but I want to know where my money’s going.

Tangi: For the triaum of Tir’Ha Reserve, there are mixed feelings about the donation.

Translator: I think it’s wonderful...that they’ve done this for us. Times have been hard these past few years, and without many rains the crops have been failing. For that school to do that for us...represents a new hope that things will get better.

Angry triaum: That’s interesting, that they think a donation of money will be like some kind of poultice to draw out all the poison that’s been injected into this community over the years. Especially after the charter rights have been revoked, and we have no choice but to use human systems of trade and governance? It’s the last of a long line of insults, to have to accept handouts when we used to be able to rely on ourselves. Well, once you take away a man’s dignity, there’s no telling what he’ll do.

Tangi: But despite mixed feelings on both sides, the reserve accepted the donation. For chief educator Chiwan Mukawe of Chowangee School, it is hoped that this is the first step toward a better relationship between the community and the reserve.

Chief Educator: You’ve got to start with the kids, you know. Teach them compassion and goodwill toward others. My hope is that this donation helps them out...after what’s happened with the law repealing the charter. That’s really what started all of this. It’s not a permanent solution, but hopefully it lets them know that there are those of us in the community who value their presence, who feel bad for what’s happened and want to help.

Tangi: With Channel D news, this is Enora Tangi.


Tumu: Really interesting story, Enora.

Enora: Thanks, Towa.

Tumu: Now with tonight’s weather forecast, here’s Suraj Dhami. Suraj?



Tumu: Looks like winter’s on the way, eh Enora?

Enora: As long as there’s less snow than last year, Towa.

Tumu: Just around the corner we’ve got sports with Linden Fruntz, followed by a special sports report, just after the commercial break. Stay tuned.




Fruntz: The Berian Charger. The Devil of the West. Footballer Iurian Buracho-Camoli has many names, but never before has he faced the names being thrown at him now.

Voice from crowd 1: Troll!

Voice from crows 2: Go back to the forest, ape!

Fruntz: Just days after testing for the Year 60 Competitive Games, Buracho-Camoli’s blood came back positive for enzyme 23, which is known to be present only in those who have hama heritage. For Buracho-Camoli, it came as quite a surprise.

Buracho-Camoli: My parents never told me there was troll...hama blood in the family. I just didn’t know. Now I’m being called names everywhere I go, and the papers are filled with my picture, and they say that I didn’t really earn any of my victories. I just want to play football, but now I can’t play for Beria anymore. My teammates tell me to go play in the hama league. I just wish I’d known about this sooner. I don’t know why hama and humans can’t play together in the same league. Hama are bigger but humans are faster. Doesn’t that balance it out?

Fruntz: But for some, banning Buracho-Camoli from the league isn’t enough.

Football Fan: He should be banned from the country. There aren’t any trolls in Beria and there never will be. His parents should be ashamed of themselves for never telling him that he had tainted blood, and they should be banished too, the whole lot of them.

Fruntz: Competitive Games official Olivia Skarpi had this to say:

Skarpi: It is unfortunate, but those are the rules of the competitive games. Buracho-Camoli is free to join a hama football team, or try out for any sport he desires in the hama games happening next year. This is not a thing done out of malice, it is done out of fairness for all human athletes involved. The hama have a size and strength advantage and that is why their games are separate and they compete only with each other.

Fruntz: To Ignacio, it is more than simply the sport, however. It goes much deeper.

Buracho-Camoli: People treat me differently now. It is not just that I cannot compete for my country in the games, which has been my dream since I was a little boy. Anybody who knows now, they look at me like I am different. Even friends from my hometown. Names are shouted at me now from across the street. Some places will not serve me. I tell you, I am not a hama. Maybe I have a bit of hama blood but I am a human. I am not one of them, but nobody will listen. I do not understand why this happened to me. I just want to play football.

Fruntz: The coach of Team Beria declined to comment.


Tumu: Thanks, Linden. This concludes our eighteen-hour news report. For more developments on news as it happens in the world and in your community, please stay tuned for the twenty-one-hour report. I’m Taho Tumu.

Tangi: And I’m Enora Tangi, wishing you a good evening, Missippa.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Seven

“Daddy, tell me the story of when you met the Seven again.”

“Are you sure, sweetheart? It’s the same story I told you last night.”

“I know, but it’s my favourite.”

“It’s mine too. Alright then. Here we go. So it was three days after Darknight when the Seven come striding through my tavern door, looking for lodgings for the night.”

“Two days, daddy.”


“It’s two days. You always say two.”

“Do I? My mistake, then. Two days it was, sweetheart. Anyway I knew it was the Seven right away from the very look of them, just how different they looked from ordinary folk. Most who came through that door were merchants or farmers, not soldiers and adventurers with swords and armour and the like.

“First comes Sir Tibolt, and he throws the door open with a mailed fist and looks around my tavern as cautiously as a man who expects a fight to come from almost anywhere. Now at first I didn’t know it was Sir Tibolt, only that it was a knight. He was clad all in plate and mail, but had no helm, and the snow was all about his long dark hair. He was very young, about the same age as me at the time, with not a whisker on his face, but still there was a look in his eyes like a man who had seen more than his years. He was a man very accustomed to danger, and the look he gave me as I polished up the bar was one that told me he wouldn’t tolerate any kind of trouble.

“Right behind him comes Aedan the Lucky, who was always smiling, and wearing his fine black cloak. Then beside him was none other than Prince Orwen of the fabled Isle of the Fae, though again I didn’t yet know it was him. Now he was just a boy then, but he had the look of somebody out to prove something. His clothing wasn’t fine like you’d expect of a prince. Rather he wore old and faded leathers and his face was as dirty as all the others’.

“So the three of them stride up to the bar and Sir Tibolt places a gold piece on the counter, which is more money than I usually saw in a week. The gold piece looked foreign; it had no king on the face side but rather an eye, and the other side had writing in a language I had never seen before. So Sir Tibolt places the gold piece on the bar and says that he and his six companions need lodging for the night, and stables and feed for their horses, and food to feed the lot of them. He also informed me that they need a separate room on account of the fact that they were travelling with a lady.”

“Selena the witch!”

“That’s right, dear. I’m getting to that part. Anyway so I bite the coin...”

“Why did you bite the coin, daddy? You always say that part but you never explain why. You can’t eat a coin.”

“Oh, well it’s quite simple, dear. I had never seen a coin of that like before and I wanted to make sure it was real gold, and real gold is soft enough that you can sink your teeth into it. So that’s what I did. Not that I didn’t trust the word of a knight, but he could have been only dressed as a knight and I had no way of knowing that he was the one and only Sir Tibolt.

“So the gold piece was real enough, and I accept it, saying that it’s enough to pay for all of them because it’s really more than a generous offer and times got hard in the dead of winter. There had been nobody through the inn in days except for the local farmers and merchants and townsfolk who came to drink. It’s hard to maintain a tavern this far from the centre of the kingdom, as I’m sure I’ve told you many a time. So Sir Tibolt tells me that the horses needed tending to first. I apologize and inform him that it may take me some time to get the food prepared, as it’s well into the evening past supper and it was only just me running the tavern after my wife had died and I had no children then.

“So as the three young men take off their boots and sit by the fire I go out into the billowing snow in the dead of winter. No sooner do I step out the door then I come face-to-face with Oruch the Silent. Now Oruch...”

“Daddy, did you really see him? Dariusz said that his daddy said that there are no such thing as trolls.”

“Well that’s because his daddy has never seen one, but I have. Do you believe that I saw the Seven?”


“Then I saw Oruch the Silent, also known as Oruch the Troll. He was as real as you or me, but taller than any man, and stronger, with a jutting jaw and big heavy brows. He was dressed all in hunting leathers, and had a big powerful bow slung over his shoulder. Well he didn’t say anything to me, just hops down off his great big black horse and hands me the reins and gives me this intense look that says he can hurt me in a lot of ways if I hurt his horse. So I shiver as he walks by and start walking to the stables with the horse. Now by this time I start really wondering about these people who are going to be staying at the inn, and especially about Oruch, because usually people won’t travel with a troll. So I walk into the stables with the horse and there are the last three of the seven, handling the other horses all by themselves. There was Rashad-al-Rashed the scholar, a tiny little man with skin like bronze who was putting hay in the troughs, and...”

“And Selena the witch was there! Dressed in her plain clothes but with beautiful raven hair and icy blue eyes, right daddy?”

“Yes, I was getting to that part. So by now from looking at them all I know that it’s the Seven who have come to stay at my tavern. And Calder the Healer comes up to me, only he doesn’t look like no healer. His hair was all a fiery, wavy red, with a beard to match, and speaking of beards he had a great bearded axe strapped to his back. And he claps me on the shoulder, which almost breaks my arm, and says in a friendly voice that they’ve got the horses covered if I want to get supper going because they’ve had a hard few days in the forest. So he takes the reins from me and I go to the kitchen to make supper for the Seven.”

“Daddy, tell me more about what Selena looked like.”

“I’ve already told you a hundred times, little one.”

“Tell me again.”

“Alright. Well she had a look that could freeze you solid, with eyes to match, but her face was more beautiful than any woman in this kingdom or the next. She wore a sword at her belt, which was unlike any woman around these parts, and though she was slight of frame, her arms looked strong and I never doubted that she knew how to use her weapon. At first glance she didn’t look like a witch, just a fierce woman, but...”

“But you saw her cast spells!”

“Would you like to tell the story instead, sweetling?”

“Sure! So then you made supper for the Seven and you heard them all talking really loudly by the fire. Sir Tibolt was arguing about finding the princess, and Calder was urging him to give it up, saying that she was lost for good. Only you didn’t know what princess they were talking about. And then Aedan poked his head into the kitchen and asked if you had any wenches around and you said no, and then Rashad was talking about going to the eye to look for a sceptre, and then Aedan poked his head in and asked for more beer so you got them all some beer, and they all thanked you except for Oruch who doesn’t speak, and Selena, she only glared at you. So then you went back to the kitchen and then the townsfolk came in and...”

“You missed a part.”

“Oh, right! So Prince Orwen was saying something about a lost sword and everybody started to get really loud, and then you heard the tromping of boots and somebody left. And by that time supper was done and you came out and started serving everybody only Oruch was missing. Then you went back to the kitchen to get more food and when you came back out the townsfolk were there in the tavern asking for the troll, and they had scythes and pitchforks and torches and the town guards had swords. tell the next part daddy, you’re better at it.”

“Alright, sweetie. So there I am, standing between the Seven and the townsfolk, the people I had known all my life, and I’m carrying this big tray of food in my hands, and Marek tells me to stand aside so that they can bring the troll to justice on account of the trolls that had come and taken away his wife last summer. And before any of the Seven can say anything, I say no, you can’t have him because he’s a guest under my roof and that’s the law of the land, and anyway Marek was just a guard and had no official sanction from any villmaster, duke, prince or king. So the townsfolk are about to make a fuss and the Seven look about ready to draw all their weapons when Aedan the Lucky comes and stands beside me and...”

“And casts a spell and summons a dragon to scare them all away! Only it wasn’t a real dragon, just an illusion.”

“That’s right, sweetheart. So the townsfolk all run off. And I had spilled my tray everywhere and I’m cleaning it up and thinking about how I’m going to have to leave the town and my tavern in the dead of winter on account of the Seven when Selena puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me how brave I am for standing up to everybody like that. Well I go darker than a pickled beet for that, and she’s looking me right in the eyes and I stammer and run off to the kitchen to get more food for my guests. When I come back Oruch is gone again and I get real worried that something has happened but Calder tells me not to worry and invites me to sit with them, so I do.

“So they’re all chatting, but I don’t feel that I have anything interesting to say to adventurers such as them, so I just keep my mouth shut, and I can feel Selena’s eyes on me the whole time. Then Oruch comes crashing through the door with his bow in hand and a wild look in his eyes, and he starts flailing around wildly and only Selena seems to be able to understand him...”

“And she says that the Black Brotherhood is coming, and they have to protect the town!”

“Right, only they don’t all agree on it. Calder says that the town deserves it for wanting to hang Oruch, and Prince Orwen says that they have more important things to go after and should leave right after supper, but Selena shushes them all and says that the blood of all the townsfolk will be on their hands if they don’t do something because the brotherhood is after the Seven, not the town. Calder and Selena start shouting at each other, but Aedan and Tibolt just quietly stand up and draw their weapons and say that they need to intercept the brotherhood before they reach the town. Oruch and Rashad follow them, and Selena looks at me then and asks if there’s any place to ambush them on the west road, because she isn’t familiar with the area as she came from the south. I tell her about the bridge over the river and she says that’s perfect and then suddenly she’s putting a sword in my hands, just in case, she tells me. It happens to be her spare sword, she tells me, but it looks to me to be worth more than the entire tavern.”

“Daddy, how come there was only one girl in the Seven?”

“Well there used to be two. They were looking for Princess Lula the night that they stayed at my tavern. That was when Rashad-al-Rashed of the Eye was travelling with them instead.”

“Was the princess beautiful?”

“I don’t know, I never saw her, but she was rumoured to be. Some might not think so, on account of how she was fae. Do you want to hear the end of the story, or talk about princesses? It’s way past your bedtime and I have to be up early to fetch eggs from the market.”

“Okay, finish the story.”

“Alright, so it’s the dead of winter and I’m freezing holding a sword that I don’t really know how to use because tavern owners are rarely also sword owners. I show Selena and the others to the bridge, except Calder and Prince Orwen stayed behind. So Selena says the bridge is perfect and we all hide in the bushes. Well my heart is pounding and I’m as cold as I can ever remember and Selena is beside me, breathing softly. I hear the sound of horses in the distance and suddenly Selena grabs my hand and all the fear goes away. ‘Don’t try to be brave’, she tells me, but somehow that makes me more brave. So the horses come over the bridge and then suddenly it all happens at once.

“There’s this bright flash of light and suddenly Selena is in the middle of the road in front of the horses with a crystal sword held up high. Arrows start flying from Oruch’s bow and Rashad is praying to his strange god and Aedan starts running between the horses, and his blade is going faster than anything I’ve ever seen. Well the horses are spooked and some of them start to run but there are a lot of men there in their black hoods and they start swinging at all of us with thin, curved blades. Nobody seems to be coming at me so I just watch, not wanting to get in the way or get trampled by a horse.

“Then this man in a hood comes up to Selena from behind and she doesn’t seem to see him, and I shout out so he turns to me instead. I bring my sword down at him and it digs deep into his ribs but he manages to put his sword into my own belly and it’s the most painful thing I can ever remember. I fall down and Selena is standing over me and then there’s lightning everywhere, and suddenly the battle is over. Then they throw me on a horse and I’m riding back to town with Selena, clutching my guts and screaming. She scolds me for being brave when she told me not to be.

“So we get back to the tavern and Selena helps me through the door and the first thing she says to Calder is ‘thanks for the help back there’. Calder doesn’t say anything back but he helps me upstairs to a bed and I tell him that I don’t want to get any blood on the beds but he doesn’t listen, he just lies me down and puts his hands on my stomach and suddenly I’ve stopped bleeding, but I still feel unwell so I stay lying down.

“Well the others get back and they all come in and ask if I’m alright and thank me for letting them stay at the tavern, then they all go off to bed, all except Selena. She stays behind and tells me that I saved her life, and that she’s glad to see that ordinary people can still be brave sometimes. I tell her that I’m not brave, just foolish around beautiful women. And Selena the Witch, the woman who never smiles, laughed right there in front of me. May all the gods strike me down if I’m lying.

“Anyway the next morning I made them all breakfast, and my guts where I got stabbed didn’t hurt in the least. They were in a rush to be off but they all thanked me and promised to come back this way again, except that they never did, none of them except Selena. But she gave me a kiss before she left, and that made it all worthwhile, the stabbing, the townsfolk being mad at me for the next three years and all.”

“Why did Selena come back, daddy? Was she in love with you?”

“I don’t know, little one. To this day I don’t know. All I know is that when she came back, she brought me back something that I love more than anything else in the world.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dalena's Adventure

Dalena struck her stick back and forth across the tree, refusing to admit that she was lost. She was hoping that somebody from the village would hear, but she had already shouted herself hoarse and nobody had appeared. At least it reassured her that there weren’t any bandits in the woods.

The town was supposed to be west from where she was, that was the way the light seemed to be shining from, but she’d been walking that way for forever and the town was nowhere in sight. She couldn’t hear the town either; usually when she snuck away from mother to play in the woods she could still hear the horses and dogs and merchants and other children.

Instead all she heard were the birds, and her stick thwacking against the tree. She grew frustrated and struck the stick against the tree hard enough to break it. Dalena sat down amongst the nettles and moss of the forest floor and bit her lip. She wouldn’t cry, she wouldn’t. Adventurers didn’t cry.

Dalena could hear her mother’s voice in her head: ‘don’t you’s dare go sneakin’ off into those woods again, Dalena. Real adventurers run off and die and leave mouths like yours to be fed. Go off into those woods and you’s will get snatched up by the fairies. They steal children like you a’cause they can’t have they own. You run off again when you’s supposed to be helpin’ me bake bread and you’s will get the switch again.’

Dalena knew for certain that she would get the switch if she ever found her way home...and then stupid Cerny and Lubor would make fun of her for getting lost. She looked off into the woods, the way she had come, and wondered if she could survive in the forest. She knew how to make a fire; all you needed was some twigs. She could catch birds and mice and rabbits, she supposed. All she had to do was throw rocks at them or make a trap.

Except she didn’t know how to make traps, and she didn’t have a knife. Dalena found herself thinking of her father. He would have known what to do. Why hadn’t he taken her with him when he left? They could have had adventures together. Mother said that he’d left Dalena behind because he was too busy having adventures with other women, but Dalena supposed that would be fine. They would probably be nicer to her than mother, at any rate.

Dalena noticed that the light was taking on an orange glow. She sighed and stood up, determined to ignore the hollow feeling in her stomach. A smart adventurer would have brought food with them, she scolded herself silently. Dalena tried to find a way up so she could take a look around. The forest canopy was still too thick for her to see the sun. Eventually Dalena came to a place where the ground sloped sharply up and she climbed. At the crest of the hill, the sun was still hidden, but there was a great big gnarled black tree that looked climbable.

In the upper branches, Dalena could see the forest for miles around. If not for the hills and valleys, the area that she could see would have been just an endless sea of green. Dalena had never seen the sea before. As she studied the position of the sun, tears came unbidden to her eyes. She had been going the wrong way the whole time. No matter which was she looked from her perch in the tree, she couldn’t see the village, or even a recognizable landmark.

There was no more denying that she was lost. Dalena began to wonder instead if she would even survive. Her mother and the stupid butcher’s sons had been right; she knew nothing about adventuring. She was just a foolish little girl who had wandered too far into the forest. The town crier would probably announce that she’d been eaten by wolves.

As if on cue, Dalena heard a howl that seemed to come from everywhere at once. She shivered and hugged the branch. If she stayed in the tree, nothing could get at her, except maybe a bear.

Or a fairy-creature. They could just fly up to the branches and snatch her away to feed their dark gods or make her dance for them until she perished from exhaustion. She had no bread to appease them. Stupid baker’s daughter, she told herself, not even bringing bread for the fairies. She didn’t have a weapon to fight off the wolves, either.

Dalena watched as the sun began to creep down behind a hill. It basked the forest in a glow that seemed almost peaceful. Up in the tree, none of it seemed so threatening, but Dalena knew better. Underneath the trees were dangers that could kill a man, not to say anything of unprepared little girls.

She wondered what her father would have done. First of all, he would have brought the proper equipment with him. Well, there was nothing that Dalena could do about that, but she knew at least how to build a fire. She didn’t have a tinderbox, but she had time before the sun went down, and the fire would keep the dangerous animals away, at least that’s what the men in the tavern would always say when they talked about hunting.

The branches of the tree were mostly quite dry, so Dalena began to collect them as she made her way back down to the base of the trunk. Her stomach complained at her again, but she ignored it. It would get cold in the forest at night, even in the summer, and she knew that staying warm was more important than eating, especially when she hadn’t even thought to bring a blanket or jacket. How had she been so stupid? She hadn’t planned on getting lost, that’s what it was, but it was still pretty dumb to go out into the woods without bringing so much as a knife.

She hoped that she would live long enough to regret getting lost.

It was twilight by the time she got the fire lit, and the wolves were howling. She hadn’t been able to find any stones for a ring so she’d dug a pit with her hands and laid some twigs and dried leaves in the bottom. Then she’d taken two other twigs and rubbed them together until her arms were more sore than when she had to carry the big bread trays for mother. Even after it felt like she couldn’t possibly rub them any longer she had to keep going until finally a spark caught. She hadn’t been able to find a lot of firewood so she knew to keep the fire small or it wouldn’t last.

She couldn’t fall asleep though. The wolves wouldn’t stop howling at each other, and she kept thinking she was seeing things even though it was too dark beyond the fire to see much of anything at all. Her stomach growled almost as loud as the wolves and she was shivering even despite the fire. Dalena had never felt so miserable; it was even worse than the time mother had beat her bloody for stealing one of the apple pies from the kitchen.

At some point her eyes snapped open. Dalena couldn’t remember falling asleep, but she must have because the fire was just embers. The wolves had stopped howling, and she could hear the crickets and frogs. She also thought she heard an owl somewhere far away.

Dalena grabbed a couple more small logs and placed them on the fire with some twigs, then blew on the embers like she did when she didn’t feel like pumping the oven bellows. After a moment, the fire leapt back to life.

When Dalena looked back up, there was a pair of eyes staring at her from across the flames.

She stared back, frozen in fear. The eyes were huge, bigger than any she’d ever seen, framed by a round face and wild red hair. She thought that it was a girl, but in the dim light it was hard to tell. She couldn’t even tell if it was an adult or a child.

“Don’t hurt me,” Dalena whispered.

“Lay’at, tah too?” The voice sounded feminine, but it didn’t sound like a little girl. Dalena had no idea what the woman had said but it sounded like a question. Dalena put up her hands slowly to show that she wasn’t a threat. She had never been so afraid. Even the wolves howling as she’d been trying to sleep was nothing compared to the strange woman with the child’s face and fiery hair staring at her. For a brief moment she wondered if she was looking at a fairy, but then she remembered that fairies were supposed to have wings.

Dalena realized that she’d been staring at the woman without saying a word.

“I don’t understand you. Are you a fairy?”

A flicker of recognition passed over the woman’s eyes at the word ‘fairy’. She shook her head.

“Triaum, tay’yim,” she said as she pointed at herself.

“Tree-aum,” Dalena said, though she couldn’t roll the ‘r’ properly. “ name is Dalena,” she said as she pointed at her own chest. “You’re not going to hurt me?”

The woman Dalena decided to think of as ‘Tree-aum’ brought her hands to the fire, which made Dalena flinch. When she realized that Tree-aum was just warming her hands, she relaxed a little.

“Where did you come from?” Dalena asked. “Do you live here in the forest?”

“Nee tuiheem, tay’yim,” she replied with a shrug. Dalena was starting to understand that they were not going to be able to communicate very easily. She studied Tree-aum for a moment as the woman rummaged in her satchel, which seemed to be made of some kind of canvas. Her clothing looked like some kind of woven grass, tight against her translucent skin, but she wore no shoes of any kind. In fact, Dalena didn’t see any leather upon the woman at all. She didn’t see a weapon either, but she didn’t doubt that a woman who knew the forest would have one somewhere. Dalena decided that she had nothing to fear from the woman. All that Tree-aum wanted was to share the fire.

Tree-aum brought some nuts and dried berries out of her satchel, and Dalena’s stomach rumbled loudly enough to wake the long-dead wights of the forest. Tree-aum gave Dalena a look that seemed like pity and held out her hand across the fire. Dalena inspected the contents of Tree-aum’s hand carefully: there were hazelnuts and walnuts, dried cranberries and some shrivelled pieces of apple. Dalena did not want to be greedy, but she found that even piece by piece, she was devouring the contents of Tree-aum’s palm rather quickly. Dalena had never tasted anything so delicious.

When Dalena had finished, Tree-aum opened her satchel and laid it in front of the two of them. It was filled with more of the same mixture of berries and nuts. Dalena dug in eagerly and Tree-aum ate more leisurely. For a moment there seemed to be no other sound than the two of them chewing, and the crackling of the fire.

The contents of the satchel were dwindling by the time Dalena’s belly was full, and the fire was getting low.

“Thank you,” she said, hoping that Tree-aum would get the impression of what she was trying to convey. “You probably saved my life.” Dalena looked for more wood to put on the fire, but it had all been used up, and she didn’t want to go wandering around in the dark, at least not by herself. Dalena pointed at the fire.

“Do you know where we can find more wood?”

Tree-aum pointed in the direction of the trees. Dalena shivered. It was so dark out there.

Tree-aum held out her empty hand to Dalena. With the other she gestured at the fire.

“Tah’geyn, too’teen,” Tree-aum muttered. Suddenly the flames were licking up Tree-aum’s hand, but she seemed completely unhurt. The flames coalesced into a ball atop Tree-aum’s palm and the fire in the pit had gone out. Dalena stared at Tree-aum’s hand.

Fairy or not, Tree-aum was some kind of magician. Dalena wondered what Cerny and Lubor would say if she told them, but she knew they would never believe it. She took Tree-aum’s hand, no longer afraid. The two of them strode into the darkness, using the fire in Tree-aum’s hand to illuminate the forest path.

Dalena hoped that they weren’t heading in the direction of her village.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fhomi's Song

Fhomi sang a song as he crept between the trunks of two great arrow trees, far ahead of his tribe.

The warriors of his tribe would not be singing as the humans approached the site of the ambush, of course. Complete silence was required on their part to lure the human warriors into the trap. Fhomi had watched the brave men and women of his tribe set to work in the thick of the forest, laying the sharpened stakes in pits covered with moss. The archers had hidden themselves as high as they could go in the pines, and the spearwomen and spearmen disappeared amongst the trees.

As the fastest runner in the tribe, Fhomi had been given a higher honour than that of warrior on his song-day, which had only been four sun-cycles ago. He had been appointed as his tribe’s messenger.

As the fastest runner, it was also his honour to be the bait.

Fhomi had made his way through the Vohori Forest with confidence, knowing that the humans would not be as comfortable in the thick underbrush. Fhomi knew the paths of the wolves and the deer, the bears and the rabbits. He knew how to blend in amongst the thorny immopo bushes without drawing blood, and he could throw a stone between tree trunks that stood close together, flicking his wrist the way a cat catches a fish to stun his prey from afar.

Fhomi sang his song loudly as he went. It had taken Fhomi many years to learn the art of aahmm, the sing-and-listen, but not as many as some in his tribe. He wanted to be found by the humans who were blundering through the Vohori Forest, and he wanted them to pay for what they did. The song he sang was Rummaavo, the song of anger. The hama had no specific song for vengeance, at least not any tribe that Fhomi had ever met, but Fhomi figured it was because each revenge was unique. This revenge was a whole tribe seeking to make the humans pay for killing, raping or enslaving every last hama of their sister tribe. Fhomi could think of no other song to sing than the song of anger.

He remembered when he had first learned the song of anger. It was not a song taught to children; a warrior-in-training had to be mature enough to hear the truth behind the words, rather than just the feeling behind the singing. Fhomi and the other warriors-in-training would run up and down the big hill outside the summer village, singing the song of anger from deep in their bellies. Some would sing from their throats and the warrior-chief would punch them in the stomach to remind them what happened if you took a blow while holding air in the wrong place.

It was not the only song being sung. The gatherers would sing the song of tasks as they fetched roots and berries. The new mothers would sing songs of joy and life to their babies as they fed them. The hunters would sing the songs of the birds as they crept through the woods searching for prey. The children would run and play, singing the made-up songs of a new generation. Every word that passed from a hama’s lips was music and movement, sound and gesture, but the songs were part of a deeper thrum of life that pulsed through the tribe. They always made Fhomi feel as though he were a part of something eternal.

Once the sun was high in the sky they would fight each other in the purplegrass field. They were not allowed to hunt with anger in their lungs so they would practice their warcraft instead. The warrior-chief reminded them that there was a time and a place for anger, like any emotion, and anger was best reserved for war or games. If it was brought into other parts of life, it would overshadow the songs of joy and happiness, and a hama could become Mubhaar - one who lessens the songs of others.

As Fhomi crept up the crest of a mossy hill, he could hear the humans nearby, discussing something in a language full of clicking and clacking and snake sounds. Fhomi could feel his own fear; it made the hairs on his arms and neck stand up straight. The humans had better weapons, ones made of metal instead of stone, but Fhomi knew that the humans would soon be more afraid, so long as he managed to stay hidden but heard long enough to lure them to his tribe. Most humans were smaller and weaker than the average hama, and they would hopefully be caught unprepared and afraid. The humans had a different kind of fear from the hama, Fhomi had been told, but supposedly they were familiar with the feeling. They did not fear angering the gods by acting without honour, but they feared death greatly. For that, Fhomi was glad. He wanted them to be afraid as they died.

Fhomi could hear the humans fan out as they tried to surround him, but a hama knew how to project the voice to make it seem like they were somewhere else. He stopped singing and stopped moving for a moment. Some of the human footsteps stopped as well, and they continued their discussion in their hissing, unmusical voices.

“I know what you did, humans,” Fhomi whispered, loud enough to be overheard.

“The spirits of the forest will punish you through us, their mortal servants,” he said in a slightly different voice. He wanted to make it appear that two hama hunters were having a hushed conversation and would soon flee. He was relying on the humans’ gullibility, and their greed for more slaves.

He took several loud steps. A human shouted and Fhomi could hear the rest of the warriors pick up the chase.

He did not have to run fast to stay ahead of them. The humans wore heavier clothes because they were more sensitive to cold, and they were not comfortable in the thick of the forest. Even if Fhomi hadn’t been the runner for his tribe, he could have evaded the humans for as long as he liked. He wished that the Haouar tribe had been so fortunate. Fhomi deliberately made a lot of noise so that the humans, as deaf as they were clumsy, would continue the chase.

A familiar copse of greenspear trees appeared to Fhomi’s right, and he knew that he was close. He made a sound like a crow to signal the tribe. Not that he needed to; the archers would see them coming, and the whole forest could hear them blundering through the wood.

Then he slipped and fell.

Everything slowed down for a moment. Fhomi could see the world spinning as his body rushed downward. He could hear the archers loosing their first arrows. He could smell the moss covering the trap below him. He had enough time to contemplate how strange it was that he, the tribe’s most surefooted, had slipped and ruined the surprise of the traps. He wondered if it was the forest’s way of punishing the tribe for the holes they had dug in her.

The spikes in the bottom of the pit drove their way through his flesh, and Fhomi screamed. As his scream died away and searing pain shot through his arms, legs, torso and neck, Fhomi could hear the warriors of his tribe lift their voices in the song of anger as they attacked the humans. He realized that he was still alive, but he would not be for long. His whole body urged him to scream, but instead he joined his voice to that of the warriors of his tribe.

As Fhomi shut his eyes, listening to the dying screams of the humans and the blood bubbling past his lips, the song could be heard above it all. Fhomi continued to sing, adding his voice to the song of anger, an eternal part of the musical tapestry that Fhomi knew as ‘life’.

Fhomi was determined to die the way all hama were meant to: with a song on his lips.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sho’rai T’mithrall

They’ll pay for what they did, even though the triaum sish is very specific about how wrong revenge is. The ‘path of the people’ is also very peculiar about it, by teaching that it is wrong without ever calling it by name. There is no word in our language for vengeance. That's how taboo it is.

But we learned what it meant from the humans. Their burden, the burden of selfishness, became ours, so we learned about negative reciprocation. They stole my idea, so now I will take something of theirs.

Not that it was really my idea in the first place. Amongst my people, an idea belongs to the community, and that was exactly how it was meant to be used. Besides, it was the community that gave me the idea in the first place. The reciprocation of the conscious self and the collective consciousness of the community, you might say. The triaum have a word for that: m’lartsh. Humans have a really hard time pronouncing it, and an even harder time understanding what it means. I’ve seen very few of them ever practice it.

It was supposed to help them, as it has always helped us. In return, we were supposed to be paid. The money was supposed to come to our community, so that we could turn the ‘Fae Quarter’, as they call it, into something better than the piss-poor squalor most of us have been stuck with our whole lives. I only got out because I was smart, and I wanted to use those smarts to bring something back to the community. Only the human druch would be so cruel as to promise an ease of the burden we triaum carry, the burden they gave us, and then renege on it.

I based it on the idea of Sho’rai T’mithrall...the endless cycle. The triaum adopt the belief that all things are without end; that all things are in a constant state of flux and transition...but it is up to us to maintain a balance in that flux, or the universe will collapse upon itself eventually. Humans have no respect for Sho’rai T’mithrall. They take and do not give. That was why I sold them the patent for the waste recycling system - to improve the quality of life for everyone. Waste works better when it can be filtered properly and completely back into the ecosystem – the way the goddess M’Tiar intended. Not just dumped back into the water to create filth and disease like the societies of old, not ‘treated’, as the humans called it, but recycled for crops. What enters our bodies must eventually leave again, only to return once more. It is the same with food as it is with souls. The harmonization of the physical and spiritual universe.

Humans don’t understand that, of course. They only understand profit. The now. What can benefit the individual the most in the moment. Thus our idea of community was taken advantage of. Why pay for an idea that would benefit humanity, thus benefitting the triaum who are stuck using the human economic system, with its made-up values for things, when one can simply take it and pay nothing?

There will be a lawsuit, of course, but we have to play by their rules, in their courts. We’ll never reach a decent settlement, and a new generation of humanity will simply learn that it can take advantage of the triaum without any real consequences. It’s been our story for thousands of years.

And that is why I now understand revenge. If I want to change our situation, I cannot allow us to be taken advantage of. It is up to us to change our situation.

I only hope M’Tiar will forgive me for all the suffering I am about to cause with this sabotage. What matters most to the gods, the number of souls saved in the long run? And do the human gods wage war against the goddesses of the triaum just as the humans cause us misery?

What a fucked-up world we live in, full of shit.

The humans are going to learn just how full of shit it really is.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Hey everyone. I got a little busy yesterday so I didn't manage to get a blog post done. Instead, today you get two! Here's the first one, with the second to come a little bit later:

EDIT: It's late and I have my first shift at my new job tomorrow. Double-feature tomorrow?




“Yao! What’s happening? Babe, it’s been far too long! Listen, I just got this amazing script plopped onto my desk and you would be perfect for the lead! It’s got everything you like: action, cool one-liners, babes in skimpy outfits. Studio is begging for me to get you. I know how busy you are, but please, please, give your old pal Temu a call. Budget is huge for this feature. Picture this: it’s a history piece. Well, kind of. You’re the last of your kind, a race of immortal warrior assassins...and you have to travel the ancient world to find your long-lost love. Lots of fighting, monsters galore, babes...battles with fae wizards and mighty hama armies and dragons...what do you think? Huh? I’ve sold you, I know I have. Look, babe, call me back soon, we really want you for this. We’ll do lunch.”



“Hello. Yao.Tl. Ix.Ta.Pan. If you’re receiving this message. You may. Have. Already. Won. Five. Thousand. Travel. Dollars. To claim. Your prize. Please. Press. Zero. Or say. Yes. Now.”

“If you. Are using. A rotary. Phone. Please say. Yes. Now.”

“If you. Have received. This message. As a voicemail. Message. Please. Call. The following number: Three. Two-One-Two. One-Six-Nine. Three-Five-Five-Seven. To claim. Your prize. Of five thousand. Travel. Dollars. That number. Again. Is. Three. Two-One-Two. One-Six-Nine. Three-Five-Five-Seven.”

“Hello. Yao.Tl. Ix.Ta.Pan. If you’re receiving this message. You may. Have. Already. Won. Five. Thousand. Travel. Dollars. To claim. Your prize. Please. Press. Zero. Or say. Yes. Now.”

“If you. Are using. A rotary. Phone. Please say...”



“Yao. Mother is very upset with you. How could you change your number and not even tell her? Well I gave it to her but now she’s too upset to call so she made me do it instead, you insensitive bastard. You haven’t come to visit us in over a year. You can’t tell me you’re that busy making movies that you can’t come to visit mother and your only sister. Or are you too busy with that new tramp girlfriend of yours, the fairy? I know you find her interesting, Yao, but you really ought to give that kind of immature dating up and find a nice Axoltec girl to settle down with. Citlatl is still single, and you always used to tell me how pretty she was. What would father say if he was alive, to know that his only son is dating a fairy? I mean, I have no problem with them...but you know, you’re Yao Ixtapan. Can you afford that kind of negative publicity? You’re not an ulama player, you can’t just date any kind of woman you please, you know. You should see what they say about you, it’s all over the...”



“Your answering machine thing is too short. You should get a new one, it’s not like you can’t afford it. Oh and speaking of money, I need to borrow like, ten thousand dollars. Or was it twelve? Anyway it’s for a new car. And I don’t want you to call back and lecture me, not that you will anyway, you never call, I’m always the one calling you, but it’s for mother. The car. She’s always complaining that I borrow hers too much so I thought if I got her a new one I could just have hers. I drive it more than she does anyway, and it’s just so perfect for me. I can pay you back when I get that settlement. Anyway I’ve got to run, my dance lesson starts in half an hour, and you know how traffic is, up in the hills. Call me back sometime, you jerk.”



“Hi, love. It’s me. I’ve got some exciting news. I don’t really want to talk about it much over the phone, but I think I’ve found somebody willing to look at the script. I know you said that you had it covered, but I figured you were really busy so...I hope you aren’t too mad. It’s not going to be a big-budget production with a big studio, but that’s perfect because then nobody will fuck around with my script, right? (Laughter) Anyway the producer loves it and thinks it’s going to take the film festival by storm. This is your chance to reinvent your image, love, and my chance to open the world’s eyes to the horrors that...well, anyway I’m getting kind of ranty, sorry. (Laughter) Call me back as soon as possible, sweetie, and I’ll give you all the details, as well as my hotel room number here in Missigani. You’d better hurry up and book a flight out here or I’ll run off with some other gorgeous movie star. (Laughter) Sorry, I know you’re busy finishing up publicity for Black Blade 3...I just miss you. Anyway your machine will probably cut me off any second so...”



Friday, August 12, 2011

The Island

Chronicler Gilles’ Personal and Travel Journal

As Commissioned by King Georges I

Part V: The Invasion of the Isle of Fae

Septembra 3, 1020: A lone sailor returns with bizarre tales of the fabled Isle of Fae, and his majesty decides that his claim to the throne through his strange, long-departed grandmother is not only a true claim, but that all of his kingdom must rally the banners and unite to reclaim his birthright. My loyal counsel that the island is not a real place goes unheeded, of course. I am but his majesty’s pen, and a pen does not have a mind of its own, he reminds me. Preparations have begun for a full-scale invasion in the spring. I am hoping that by then one of the dukes will convince his majesty that the journey is complete folly, but most are just as thirsty for adventure and conquest as he is. I would rather we were going south, to find the Eye of the World. The Eye at least is not entirely a fabrication; Claudius II did try to conquer it, after all, and his historian had the chance to record many of its wonders. Sadly my king looks to other legends, to the north. I hope that I am wrong, at least.

Septembra 16: It will be a long, hard winter for many. His majesty has ordered a portion of every harvest brought to his keep, in preparation for the invasion. Few are happy about the tax, and even less thrilled with the prospect of able husbands and sons going off to war, but that is the will of the king and the gods. I wonder which is more foolish. His majesty is within his rights to punish me for disagreeing with him so openly, but he merely laughs and says he cannot wait to see the look on my face when he proves me wrong. I am glad, at least, that his sense of humour has not changed.

Octobra 20: The winter is dull, but by the grace of the gods it has been mild. Spirits are high in the castle; many of his majesty’s favourite lords are wintering with us, and his favourite troupe has been asked to stay, as well. His majesty demands stories and plays about the fae nearly every night, and they are more than happy to oblige him. I have asked the fae in the troupe for stories of the isle but they all have conflicting information. I have forbidden Sadie from going anywhere near them; the last thing that I need is her running off with some fae singer claiming that he can show her the legendary island. Marge claims that they are harmless, but I’ll bet there will be at least one or two big-eyed bastards born in the castle next fall. The dukes will probably leave a couple with the women of the troupe, too. Marge urges me to be less negative when I write my travel entries, saying that history will remember me as a curmudgeon otherwise.

Decembra 34: Spring is a few days away, and his majesty grows restless. The banners have not yet assembled; his majesty has wisely ensured that nobody will march until all of the new ships are ready to launch. Duke Auxprence counselled his majesty to leave a contingent of ships behind, to protect the northern shore which will undoubtedly be harried by Wyk raiders at some point in the spring. His majesty laughed and promptly sent a messenger to his cousin Ulfwyd, inviting him to join him in the invasion of the Isle of Fae. He promised Ulfwyd a duchy on the isle, but many of the lords think that the two armies would come to blows over succession if the island were to be conquered. Thankfully his majesty took Auxprence’s advice, at least.

Marta 17, 1021: The harbourmaster reports that the ships are ready to launch, and his majesty has called the banners. The castle is all abuzz again, and Sadie is begging me to convince his majesty to let her join the expedition. He has other plans, of course, and has promised to wed her to a fae lord. I reminded him that the fae do not have lords, at least according to any that I have spoken with, and I reminded Sadie that women are not meant to travel, especially not in the company of soldiers and sailors. She told me that she hates me, for the fifth time since the start of winter. When Marge reminded her that I might not ever return, she threatened to dress as a page and follow the army. Why couldn’t the gods have given me a son, instead?

Marta 21: We have begun our march, and thus my true chronicling begins. It should take King Georges’ forces just over a week to reach Lombaux, where we shall await the rest of the dukes and their bannermen. The bulk of the southron and western dukes’ forces are already with us. We count nearly three thousand horse (that is to say, the knights) and another five hundred mounted mercenaries, mostly from the westerlands, though there are a few of the brightly armoured Noven horsemen with their crystal swords. Of men-at-arms there are a good eight thousand, and another thousand footsoldiers bought with the king’s coin. His Majesty expects another six thousand men to meet us as Lombaux, and perhaps a good few hundred from Wyk seeking plunder and glory. Better they are raiding with us than against us, his majesty reminded his lords.

Marta 31: We have arrived at Lombaux. The bulk of the army is camped outside the city, and his majesty has insisted we remain with them to keep morale high, despite Duke Anguy’s many invitations to stay at his castle. We await Duke Néro of Prevasse and his banners. At the moment the invasion force numbers a good seventeen thousand, counting all mercenaries and Wyk freemen. His majesty is anxious for Duke Néro to arrive and has sent a messenger. The longer we delay the less food we have in reserve, he has reminded the straggling duke. Many have reminded his majesty that the mountain passes are difficult in the spring, but his anxiety to set sail grows keener by the hour. He stares at the longships and wrings his hands. Some of the men feel differently. Many are excited for glory and the chance to see magic, or take home a fae wife and untold riches. Others believe the fae will call upon their heathen gods and sink us all in a storm. There are few who, like myself, do not believe in the legend. Sailors disappear all the time looking for it. If it is a real place, men were not meant to tread there. I believe that we will find nothing. I pray that we will return safely.

Aprila 12: Duke Néro has finally arrived, and we are ready to set sail on the morrow. His majesty shouted at the duke for a good amount of time, in front of the whole army. The duke took the tongue-lashing well and apologized, but pleaded for his troops to have a day of rest before sailing. They lost many to spring sickness in the mountains and he worries that it will spread to the rest of the troops. His majesty cannot abide any more delays, however, and reminded Duke Néro that sickness cannot easily spread from ship to ship. His majesty has demanded that I remain by his side from now on, the better to record his glorious voyage across the Fae Sea. I have not seen him this giddy since his father, may the gods keep him, gave Prince Georges his first sword.

Aprila 13: Our sea voyage has begun. His majesty is in good spirits here upon the Fury, and so far no issues have been reported by the messenger pigeons from any of our seven hundred boats. Many soldiers on the Fury are seasick, but other than that the mood remains positive.

Aprila 15: So far no sign of the Isle of Fae’s shores. A fog is creeping in. Dysentery has set it amongst the soldiers of the Fury and has been reported by several other vessels, but the water is clean and has not been tampered with so his majesty is certain that it came from the river in Lombaux.

Aprila 16: A storm hit us suddenly. I am below decks, scribbling. His majesty has commanded me out of the way, but I know not what to write other than that if the Fury falls and this book is somehow found, the fleet is sailing north by northwest toward the supposed destination of the island. His majesty is calling for pigeons to be sent to the other vessels but the captain is shouting that it is madness, no birds will fly in this storm. The ship pitches and the cargo deck is leaking. My (remainder of entry illegible)

Aprila _ (entry illegible)

Aprila _ (entry illegible)

Aprila 29: Still no sign of land, still lost. The fog has not dissipated. Would that we had the fabled arrow of Tracticus to guide us! We cannot even go by the stars at night. The boats are in a tight formation and we can call out to each other, but the pigeons are mostly lost and his majesty wants to be careful with the ones we have left. At last count we have two hundred and thirty-two boats remaining, but of those, many soldiers have been lost and many more are sick or dying. At my estimate we have seven thousand men remaining, only four thousand of which are in any condition for battle. Many of our food stores have mysteriously gone rotten, and not just on the Fury. Most of the dukes are urging for us to turn back. His majesty will have none of it.

Aprila 31: Land! We have spotted land just as the fog lifted. We are following ashore cautiously. No fae spotted so far, just a stretch of beach under a cliff. We are searching for a better place to dock the boats. I do not like to admit when I am wrong, but I am excited about this opportunity to be the first human to write of his findings on the isle.

Aprila 32: We have been fooled. After docking the boats sometime after midnight we came upon a small town, where the peasants huddled in fear believing that we were a Wyk raiding party. They speak our language. The dukes are talking of leaving and his majesty is ordering people back onto the boats. Somehow we have wound up somewhere along our own coast. Is this fae magic or just bad luck?

Aprila 34: Another storm. We are losing more boats, I can hear the screams and the crashing of wooden beams. His majesty is standing on the deck swearing at every god he can name. I am starting to believe in this island. Some god or the fae themselves do not want us to find it. I can say now that I do not regret whatsoever leaving Sadie at home, but I regret that I will likely never see her get married. I only hope that this book is found someday, to remind people that too much curiosity is a dangerous, terrible thing. If history remembers this at all, this voyage will be called ‘Georges’ Folly’, and it will be his, and my, claim to fame. I do not think I will ever get to see the Eye of the World. If anybody finds this, tell (remainder of entry illegible)

(final entry)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Patriot Radio




Madu: Hi everyone, and welcome back to Patriot Radio on Station 203, The Bear. I’m your host Madu Moda, the Voice of the West. Today on Patriot Radio I’ve got writer, political pundit and personal friend of mine J.R. Hill with me in the studio. J.R. has published such award-winning books as ‘Gorillas in our Midst’ and ‘The Unseen Web’. Thanks for joining me today, Jake.

J.R.: Thanks for having me, Madu.

Madu: How was your flight?

J.R.: Great, just great thanks. The drive over to the studio was even better. I love the mountains. We really do live in a blessed country, Madu.

Madu: We really do, Jake. So...first off, let’s talk about your new book: ‘This Land Was Your Land’.

J.R.: Alright.

Madu: So tell us what the book is about.

J.R.: It’s about the United Provinces, really. The same way all my books are. It’s, you know, about this land we live in and the troubles we face on a daily basis. The political situation, as it stands. How close we are to a boiling point.

Madu: Ok. Is that something you can elaborate on, this boiling point?

J.R.: Sure. We’re approaching a state of near-crisis here in the U.P. Opponents of the war in the Eye are plenty, and while, you know, everybody who knows me knows that I’m a very vocal opponent of the war and a lot of the decisions our prime minister has been making regarding this war, we face an even greater threat here at home. We have insurgents, mainly fae but also hama; opportunists who, you know, seek to use this war to further their own agenda. Namely, that is, the subjugation of our established values here in this beautiful country of ours.

Madu: Now, when you say ‘values’, what values are you talking about?

J.R.: Freedom. Democracy. They seek to make us exactly like the Empire. Nobody allowed to think for themselves. There’s also a large contingent of fae seeking revenge for events that happened hundreds of years in the past. They want to kick anybody but themselves out of the country, even the humans and hama who support them in their peacenik rallies. The book explores the root causes of these events, citing specific examples of peaceniks allying with socialists, most of which the general public aren’t even aware of. There have also been many terrorist actions performed inside our own country which have been the actions of a few radical fae groups, which the government, in its infinite, you know, wisdom and desire to appease these violent reactionaries, claimed were ‘accidents’ or the cause of some other organization or individual. This is the kind of stuff that our government routinely hides from people that they need to be made aware of. It’s all there in the book, and years of, you know, research and interviews went into this stuff.

Madu: So you’ve interviewed terrorists for this book?

J.R.: Oh, no. (Laughter) They’d kill me on sight. No, no, I’ve interviewed, you know, several officials in the upper echelons of parliament, you know, friends of mine, mostly...many of them your friends too, Madu (Laughter). Of course, the government likes its secrets, so, you know, I couldn’t name any names, but trust me when I say that this information is coming from very reliable sources.

Madu: Ok. So to get back to the beginning, then: why the title? ‘This Land Was Your Land’? What does it mean?

J.R.: Oh, it’s quite simple, really. ‘This Land Was Your Land’. It belonged to the fae. They didn’t really need all that space, you know. All this vast empty territory with nobody occupying it. They only had about a million people living on this whole continent when people started to come over and colonize, and that’s, you know, about a tenth of the population of New Scraven. The various kingdoms of this land, you know, for the most part, gave them parcels of land equal to how much space they needed to subsist off of nature because they, you know, didn’t really have any technology or tools or anything advanced, they just wandered around and gathered berries. They didn’t even keep animals or anything. And our now-unified government, a symbol of democracy and brotherhood and friendship, the merging of cultures and peoples, has honoured those agreements and they still have those parcels of land, but now they want it all back. So, to get back to your question, the title is simply that: ‘This Land Was Your Land’. It belonged to the fae once, but they didn’t really use or need a lot of it. The needs of the many are more important than the needs of the few. So once there was no more space out in the old world, people came here. And now the fae are asking for their land back, using the war as an excuse to incite violence at home and cause strife and misery. They’re selfish by nature, you know...there have been studies done that prove this. I’ve mentioned several in the book with full documentation. The fae seem to think that the world owes them some kind of favour or, you know, apology for colonizing here. And some don’t even want that, they just want to kill us all and let the gods sort it out. I shouldn’t have to remind your listeners of the Havenville shootings, or the Hafshani bombings.

Madu: No, I’m sure we all remember those. Anybody old enough to listen to this show anyway. Terrible tragedies. Anyway, it looks like it’s time to take a couple of callers. Mai, you’re on the air.

Mai: Hi

J.R.: Hi, Mai.

Madu: Hi, Mai. Thanks for calling. Do you have a question for Mr. Hill?

Mai: I do. I was just wondering how you sleep at night, knowing that you’re spreading filth and lies to the provincial populace?

J.R.: I sleep very well, thank you, knowing that I spread no lies at all. All that is contained within my book and what I say to you here today is truth. You’ll find it all well-documented if you buy the book, I promise you.

Madu: If I could interject, here, for a moment. Mai, what exactly do you feel Mr. Hill is lying about?

Mai: The fae protests have nothing to do with the war...they’ve been protesting forever. You’ve been an opponent of a war that is as important to this country as bread and rice, trying to stop our prime minister from saving those poor souls in Yaru from a fate worse than death. You say you are on the side of the provincial people and yet you vocally oppose our government at every opportunity. You...

J.R.: If...can I have a word here? I do vocally oppose the government, when I feel they are not adequately serving the populace. It’s a poor system that uses its people to feed itself and not the other way around...and frankly, as you would see if you had read any of my books, the war against the Empire is futile. Socialism will collapse under its own weight; there is no sense breaking our backs trying to fight it. All that military money would be better spent finding a way to deal with this internal crisis we have. You do agree there is an internal crisis, don’t you, Mai?

Mai: Well, yes, but...

J.R.: If I can finish? Thank you. The fae protests have everything to do with the war. The greater the threat level abroad, the easier it is to create chaos at home, and they know this. Despite their inferior level of understanding of complex human politics, the fae are cunning when it comes to partisan tactics. Basically, you know, what they want to do is create such a level of pandemonium and fear that everyday people are afraid to go outside. Once the war fails, which it will whether by their design or the gods’, the fae will have every advantage to strike and completely destroy this country. Our only hope is for the military to pull out now and start focusing resources at home, as well as...

Mai: That’s not going to curb any kind of socialist threat, pulling out the military.

Madu: Well the real threat is in the Empire, not its satellites.

J.R.: Thank you, Madu, exactly. And wasting human lives on foolish nations that want to join a dying belief system isn’t helping us any. If the fae want to fight something so badly, let them take on the reds.

Mai: They would never go willingly.

J.R.: On that, at least, we agree.

Madu: Ok, thank you Mai. And now let’s move on to our second caller. Jer, you’re on the air.

Jer: Hi Madu. Long-time listener, first-time caller. I’d just like to say first off that I’m a big fan of your books, Mr. Hill.

J.R.: Oh, thank you. Call me J.R.

Jer: Ok, J.R. Sure thing. I’d just like to say that it’s a real honour to be talking to you. I’m a huge fan. Ok anyway, I was just wondering something, if you would indulge me. So why is it, if those have been given concessions or whatever you call it by the government, why are they saying that we’ve never given them anything at all? I mean, I read your book, and we gave them all kinds of chances to keep a lot of this land, but they didn’t really seem to care. Do they care about anything? Like, I was watching this show about the thought process or whatever you call it, of the fae, and it said that like, they don’t believe in ownership or something. Is that true?

J.R.: That’s a great question, Jer, and no that is absolutely not true. The fae do believe in ownership. They simply claim not to, in order to further your own agenda. You see, by pretending that they don’t believe in property, they are making an excuse for their ancestors...trying to find a way to blame us instead of their own people for the loss of the vast majority of this continent. You should see how they fight over the simplest of objects on the parcels...and trust me, then you will see that they do, indeed, believe in ownership.

Jer: Ok, thanks, J.R. I guess that answers my question. Real great talking to you. Bye now.

J.R.: Bye now.

Madu: How do you feel about doing one more before the commercial break, Jake?

J.R.: Sure thing.

Madu: Ok, Yel, you’re on the air. Hello!

Yel: Hello, Madu. Nice to be here. First time listener, first time caller. How are you, Jacob?

J.R.: Fine, thank you. Yel...that’s a fae name, isn’t it?

Yel: It is, Jacob. I’m surprised you don’t recognize the name...or my voice. But were always good at ignoring things that were right in front of you.

J.R.: Sorry, is this some kind of prank?

Madu: Did you have a question for Mr. Hill, Yel?

Yel: Oh, several, but I’ll try to limit myself to a few. (Incomprehensible noise...laughter?) Tell me, Jacob, where do you get your information these days? It’s a good thing journalists are afraid to talk to us traium...we wouldn’t want your credibility to be damaged, after all.

J.R.: Due to the nature of my work, I usually cannot name my sources, for their own protection. Was that all?

Yel: Hardly. I’m sure it’s not traium protection you’re concerned with, anyway. More like your friends in the capital who protect the same narrow-minded set of ideals, right? But on to questions that I’m sure will be more interesting to your listeners, right Madu?

Madu: I’m afraid we only have time for...

Yel: Indulge me one more, if you would. That sadly misguided woman Mai took up far more of your time. Tell me, Jacob, at what point did you think my people would simply lie down and take your slander?

J.R.: You have for centuries.

Yel: Then clearly you’ve learned nothing from your research, and weren’t even listening to yourself five minutes ago when you mentioned the Havenville shootings.

J.R.: Cut to commercial.

Madu: No. Stay on the air. (Muffled noises, whispering) And what exactly do the Havenville shootings have to do with it?

Yel: Yes, keep me on the air. You’d like to believe that your bureau can track me down, wouldn’t you? (Laughter) I’m sure an educated man like yourself knows plenty about the Havenville shootings, Madu, but for the sake of your audience I’ll indulge you. The shooter was never caught.

J.R.: Yes he was. Senn Wachu was hanged for his crimes.

Yel: A blameless man. A martyr to my people. The shooter was never caught, because I am he. How could you not remember, Jacob? You’ve interviewed me twice, but never bothered to record the things that I said to you because you refuse to print the truth. I should have killed you at Fort Priyavana, you know. Stopped you from spreading more lies. But this is better. You have listeners, and your radio host lets the government track callers for money. Let them come to me; it’s not like I don’t have enough bombs. Let the people listen to what their greed has brought them. I’m not here to tell you to change your ways or apologize. The time for that is gone. Our land was taken, our culture was raped, and you still act like it was the will of your gods that all this happened to us. You spit on us and degrade us, or sometimes even pity us, but it’s not your pity that we want. It’s your blood. Because we’ve tried every other way imaginable to get you to listen to our demands for equality, but those have gone unanswered. Humans only understand suffering, so it is suffering that we will give you, to make you listen. I speak for all traium when I say that you think your gods gave you this land...but by the end, you will be praying to them for mercy. Because we will give you none.