“Ever cross into an unknown tomb to find a highly decorated catafalque then turn and run.” Mysteries of the Undead, Jeremiah Delalande.
Alas why The Castle Weeps remains untold this time round as time skews and both Yish and Naz move backwards to another part of their story. This might be part cheat and part changed. My own time has skewed and caught up in much the same way Lancelot attacks Castle Python in the endless rush…need I actually name the film?
There is an entirely new section however, the Amanuensis has visited another lost soul in Part 3. No prizes for guessing who that might be (Joshua this might be aimed at you).
It struck me afterwards that subconsciously I might have drawn upon Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower and Roland’s katet visiting their word slinger in Maine.
The word count was lost too, I blame this on Part 3 and lockdown mind wandering. My apologies if the protraction leads to boredom.
Stay safe in these troubles times fellow writers. Let’s face it we, at least, can fill time in isolation with reading or writing. Book recommendations welcome in comments too.
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“Bugs,” the Dwarf spat, as was his custom when showing disgust, “I hate bugs.”
“Rich coming from a mine dweller.”
“Not in the deeps of the earth and rock Elf.”
“No, there you dig up things that make bugs look perfectly harmless.” Yish stared into the gloom illuminated by burning torches held in iron sconces placed equidistantly along the tunnel walls.
The debate had raged since entering a cave that warranted exploration. At least according to a map that held a shaft only revealed by the Sorcerer. Like the Cromlech, this was another place that didn’t want to be found.
“Who do you think lit those buggers?” The dwarf shifted his axe from hand to hand.
Caves were his history, life and purpose. Well, they had been in a previous life. Now that was long past. Somehow he’d ended up in an explorer run by a guild in the Keep. It paid well enough. Caves, mines and labyrinths were his skill, and yet this one felt wrong. Hidden underneath magic on a map that was so old even the cartographers couldn’t set an age. The elf, Yish, had seen through it though.
And here they were in an age-old tunnel, hewed by an unknown race in a time no-one remembered with torches lit in expectation of a visit
“I don’t like it,” he added.
Yish scanned the walls. Her senses felt drunk. There was powerful old magic here. Confusion and deceit. Something not wanting to be found for centuries had found her mind and opened the door.
“Neither do I.” She mounted an arrow, just in case.
Ahead the tunnel yawned into a cavern. Water dripped into a lake the disappeared in the darkness. Torches lit a path to an island. Yish watched as one by one they burst into flame.
Dwarf and Elf stood at the tunnels end, eyes drifting left and right. Stalactites glistened above. Some were immense and shone like dragons teeth in the torchlight. None appeared to have let go of their anchors on the rock high above.
“Its all wrong Yish, even her the earth moves and trembles now and then. Some of those weigh tons. They have no natural right to be still attached.“
Something rolled on the surface of the lake. Ripples fled toward the shore from the darkness. Yish drew her bowstring tighter by instinct. “What do you think that was?“
“A sign,” he replied, axe now resting on his shoulder
“We should leave.” He exhaled and watched his breath fog. The air was cooling fast. “Now.”
“Yish, are you listening?“
The Dwarf glanced across, then followed her gaze and froze.
In the centre of the lake there was an island and upon that rested a coffin. Not any old dead box. This one was black and trimmed with silver. Highly polished wood, it might be oak, but at this distance the Dwarf couldn’t be sure. It might even be granite, obsidian or ivory for all he knew. Not that his attention was lingering on construction. That would be the noise of a seal being broken and mist begin to drip down the sides of the catafalque.
“Dhampir. Subgroup Undead. Child offspring of union between vampire and human. Alternative variations; dhampyre, dhamphir, or dhampyr. Balkan folklore.” Mysteries of the Undead, Jeremiah Delalande.
“What are you?” The sanguisuge leered at the sorceress before him.
Never had anyone failed to tremble or give up their gaze knowing the end was close and likely to ebb as blood flowed. This creature stared him down. Held his gaze. The hypnotised hypnotic.
Speak fiend. The words crawled through her mind.
The witch remained silent as her eyes bore into the vampires mind. Ice flowing through it’s skull. She felt panic and terror inside a beast that didn’t know it. Or had forgotten it’s meaning somewhere long in the past.
“Have you any last words? Regrets? Confessions? Anything vampire?”
He flowed forwards. Yish didn’t flinch, holding her ground. Their eyes remained locked in a battle of wills that the ancient undead was losing.
“Last words elf,” a smile widened exposing a maw hosting elongated canines. “No, wait… a bastard elf yes?“
Yish curled her hand around the claymore resting in a shoulder scabbard. The vampire broke his gaze as she drew the edge upwards. Uncertain he moved back.
“Bastard am I? What would you know of that?” The claymore sat partially drawn.
He moved around her, swirling in partial mist blending with shadows flickering in sconced torchlight.
“You came alone. Is foolishness also a trait?”
Yish drew the claymore and slashed downwards. The mist solidified and the vampire let out a howl as an arm fell to the floor.
His eyes flared and a snarl ripped across the vampires face. “You,” he whispered.
She held the bloodied sword blade against his neck. “Aye, it is me.” She spat on the floor in disgust, a habit subconsciously picked up from the dwarf, before adding “Father.“
Nahar laughed, his dwarven frame rippling with mirth. His fist slammed into the oak table he was sat at. Plates rattled with the impact.
“What did the beast say to that then Yish?“
The sorceress drank from a goblet. She was used to wayfaring inns and this one was homely, not luxurious. A fire, good company and hosts that knew when to listen and when not to.
“One word that explains much.”
“Which was?” The Dwarf recovered his composure and poured more ale from an earthenware ewer.
“Damphyr.” She spoke the word slowly. Nahar paused mid pour.
“That was it?“
“Then you hacked his head off and burnt the corpse.”
“Something like that.” She picked up her ale.
“Yish, tell me the world is one less blood leech.“
The sorceress smiled and raised her goblet. The dwarf reciprocated, knowing she was stalling.
“Cheers Nahar, may your days be long in number.”
“At some point in life the question of who or what am I inevitably appears. Neither sorcery or longevity keep the inner voice asking. Most species create gods and religious orders to offer hope. Whether this is real or misguided is not known. Savagery and war resulting from them are. It is for each individual to consider this question without indoctrination. Never forget though that life is precious. Even if it takes a sour turn and despair looms. That is but one turn of the wheel. It is life. As are hope, love, happiness, sadness and tragedy. Embrace them all for they will surely embrace you.” Jeremiah Delalande. The Philosophy of Life.
Extract from “Letters of The Amanuensis – The Wordsmith.“
“I anticipated this as part of your searching.”
Am I merely a figment of your atrophying imaginations?
“What do you think?
I feel, I see, I hear
“Then you have your answer.
Then Wordsmith should be replaced by Chronicler.
“Agreed, I am nothing more than a biographer, a Scribe in your terms.”
What comes next?
“That has yet to unfold. I write as it happens.”
No powers of foresight at all?
Do you see all worlds, all permutations and courses of action?
“No. I see things as they unfold. I journeyed with the wizard, was with Wayland and when he met The Black, walked with Rose in her dreamscape, Dave as he sat at the graveside, Joseph as his brother fell.”
And me, Chronicler. What do you see while here?
“An enigma. A prisoner not knowing who or what he is. You control your destiny not me.”
And my past? Have I lived that or have you merely contrived it for me?
Again, these things remain unwritten. It is you Amanuensis that has not shown me your past yet.”
Then what lies in the Vault remains unknown?
“There are two that know.”
Let me use foresight. These two are unwritten yet also.
And Yish. What know you of her?
“That, I will not answer. I know Yish and you must wait until paths cross to discover the connection. Broach the subject thereafter.”
Then start chronicling fool.
So I finally found time to read, ha! (Still got your others to read as well, I’ve not forgotten!) And what a great “welcome back” this story was for me. Brilliant stuff, Gary, as mentioned elsewhere, this is a great blend of fantasy and horror (and other genres). I really do like the partnership and camaraderie between these two!
The reveal that the vampire was the father caught me off-guard — I read the intro definition on dhampirs, then the chat with the vampire, but it didn’t click until you spelt it out for me! So Yish is part vampire? Intriguing, the implications of that are far-reaching. I must admit, I’m not well-versed on dhampir lore, but does this mean she might have the needs of a vampire cropping up at a later date? Is her control over her own actions tentative at best? And is her sorcery linked to her heritage? Also, I have a niggling doubt in the back of my mind that Yish has reduced the number of blood leeches in the world… Great story, Gary! I hope to read more, as I’d quite like answers 😀
Also, I wonder: what caused the ripple in the water? A pet or guardian of the vampire?
As for the last part, that was brilliant. “Then start chronicling fool.” Ah, splendid! I really enjoyed this little “chat” between The Amanuensis and… The Wordsmith/Chronicler 😉 Especially after our discussions regarding feeling more like a biographer than anything and the idea of our stories coming to life. If your Corona and God Strain stories were foresight of current events, then is this world a glimpse into the past? Or, perhaps, an alternate universe? Or perhaps a future after the apocalyptic days have run their ravenous course and the second age of mankind has begun?
Brilliantly written, Gary, as always. 🙂
And I’m finally checking back in to read your comments too. Apologies for the delay and I’ll try and start reducing our discussions to manageable levels!
Good to hear you genre blend take. I just write and see what happens. I don’t even consider genres or if they swap about. I think the chat with the Amanuensis kind of suggests that as I am, after all, just the chronicler…and a fool apparently. I thought you might like the end bit too.
Damphir lore is sketchy really. Originates in the Balkan’s with emphasis on male offspring with traits of human and vampire. Often they become hunters as you have alluded to. Male hybrids are rare, female ones more so and Yish is an elf… not sure where that leaves her in terms of this plot arc!
However I will reveal my thoughts as they swirl about here. She says father yes, but not that she was spawned before he became a sanguisage or after. That’s a how old are they question. Or if he was human or elf. If he was human then Yish is a hybrid there too and not pure blood elf. If he was vampire then the cross creates not just a blood line cross, but a blood cross of a different sort too. The damphir cross would give her an edge though. Reaction times, sorcery and being able to see them through any masking conjuration thrown up. There is also a very deliberate reader flow to assume she actually killed him. Naz thinks so, but she neither denies or states she has in that dialogue. The wordsmith is undecided….unwritten being the perfect title methinks.
Same with the water entity. The concept there has been met before with a wizard travelling a dead landscape. I’m guessing the natural lead aims straight at Tolkien’s Watcher in the water outside Moria. Around the vampire it probably reacted to Naz, not Yish if her heritage is truly damphir. Perhaps why she did the final part alone.
This universe is part post apocalyptic. The Elder mages were highly advanced sorcerers with a vast civilisation. While the current time is “advanced” It’s short of what was. Relics encountered are unexplained and lie in lore or parchments as almost mythical. Well, apart from the Keep. That stores everything with the vault referred to being an archive of history. It writes the true timeline as time passes. Chronomancy induced deviations only manifest outside the vault. The Amanuensis is one of three people that have authority to enter it. His particular role is to spot deviances and use the resources available to correct it. Obviously his current predicament prohibits that. This suggests whoever sacked the keep was well versed in dark sorcery and is altering a moment in the past to create an alternate future. That should ripple outwards across all universes….all a working concept with a great deal of change no doubt if the fool writes.
Flute on the other hand is running out if time!
Thankd Joshua, really appreciate the feedback 😊
No apology necessary, Gary! As mentioned, there’s zero pressure to get back to all of our threads, or to even respond quickly (or at all!) — our discussions are hugely enjoyable, and should never cause stress. No obligations whatsoever — except to write more stories, for all of us to sink our teeth into and ponder over!
Haha, yes, that bit made me chuckle quite a bit. I could spot the King influences very clearly, yet it was very much your own. I wonder what my characters would say of me, if I were to ever allow them… I shudder to think! I’m sure it’d full of expletives 😂
Ah, yes, many more possibilites than I’d initially considered! Whether he was human or elf, and whether he was turned vampiric before or after the birth of Yish… there’s a lot of ideas and different paths you can take, here, Gary. I very much look forward to reading more, when the time comes!
I did get echoes of Tolkien when reading of your mysterious water creature — the notion that it allows vampires/dhampirs is a very intriguing one! Again, I want to learn more about this fellow 😂 The lore and worldbuilding is really top-notch!
Honestly, Gary, this entire idea is truly fantastic. As I’ve gushed over many times before, how richly detailed and in-depth the universe you’ve made is wonderful, but the core idea itself is really brilliant. I’m practically screaming at my laptop, “Get on writing and get it published!” I can say for certain that I will be buying the books, as soon as they’re out!
Zero pressure has resulted in liking but not replying to some older threads. Hard though it was as the debates are rich and varied.
I quite like the idea of developing the Amanuensis as an author interviewer. Cut to the chase with hint of sinister. I ought to commune with him more methinks. Just to touch base…as it were….
Lol, obviously I twist things in a direction that leads to the “obvious” outcome. Now you’ve a heads up to go conspiracy now….although maybe some obvious is actually what it is… ha, ha.
I was thinking watcher in the water outside Moria too. This one rumbled because Naz was about. With Yish it retracted. Maybe that’s saying damphir? Mind you I could just explore it and see how it goes. No law saying it has to be part of the actual final WIP I guess.
Might have to Facebook the more in-depth book concepts lol. Or just send you the back story file. It’s the equivalent of a room filled with scraps of paper….just electronic… need that writing room 🤔
Indeed! Trouble is, I want to keep all the conversations going, and want to respond to everything you type! The conversation is just too good, haha! Perhaps a policy of a brief comment on the story/post, then an in-depth ramble via Facebook messenger? (A policy I’ve not adhered to this time around, ha! No need to respond to all of it, mind you. These conversations get the creative juices flowing in my mind!)
That’s the beauty of writing buddies Joshua. Even King makes a big issue in On Writing about that! It’s not just critique, but questions that require the author to think more or differently about what they are writing and why.
This weekend I am intentionally going quiet whilst investigating blog theme things too. I have an awful feeling I need to redo most of my blog graphics to get the image sizes consistent with the new theme requirements. I’ve noticed the slider bar I’m trialling on the home page finds tagged posts and leaves the image behind. This, I am thinking might also explain by both Twitter and Facebook started blanking shares last year too.
You might tell me off for not having read On Writing yet! I’m currently halfway through King’s Danse Macabre, which I’ve found to be utterly brilliant and absorbing. I’m thinking of getting a copy of On Writing and moving straight onto that after I’ve finished DM!
It’s a must read for a writer, if not to learn in the early days he needed a bigger nail to hold the rejection letters! You have me thinking now too. I can’t recollect Dance Macabre… this is very bad of me indeed 😱
Well, in the time it’s taken me to get back on top of things, I’ve since finished Dance Macabre, purchased a copy of On Writing and finished reading it! Brilliant stuff — thanks so much for the recommendation. It was a fascinating read, even if I don’t do things quite the same way as the master.
Brilliant stuff Joshua, once I’m back on my game I’ll do a spotlight on your books if that’s ok with you? On Writing is a must read in my opinion, simply to see how an “unconventional” method can be hugely successful. It’s also good to here at the start it was tough going too. Mind you I’m not certain it’s quite as easy to get a foot in the door with trad publishers now. Self publishing also kind of swamps the market too with, shall we say, all levels of writing. Makes readers wary I guess. Hmm, I wonder if that’s the source of my indecision 🤔
interesting imagery, that becomes gruesome. Nice scene with the dwarf and the elf.. x
Thanks Marian! I’m massively behind this (last) month. I can’t believe you posted this on May 11 and here I am in June catching up. I still have most of last months entries to read, including yours! I hope you’re all ok x
Hi Gary, I’m okay, to be honest I’m finding it hard to write at the moment. Having the kids at home, I’m home schooling and now working a six day week. I’m too tired in the evenings to write. My May blog battle entry was at the end of May. I’m sure June’s will be at the end of June.
I usually do my blogs on Tuesdays and Fridays, my days off.. but now it’s school. Stress and worry with corona virus isn’t helping either. Hope you are alright x
Good to hear that amidst the worry and routine disruptions you’re basically OK. Hard times to keep the MH upbeat. More so when I see vast hordes gathering all over. Be it sunning on beaches, parks and so on, or protest marches that go sour. Whatever the cause be, those gatherings are not wise during a pandemic that’s supposed to be abating. That stresses me more actually, wondering if all the hard work of lockdown has just been undone. X
It’s photos of the massive protest in London that has made me angry today. I’m not sure what these people hope to achieve, apart from thousands ill with COVID. The affects on all of us, the economy, redundancies and the NHS is really scary. As NHS I was relieved not to be redeployed a few weeks back.. I’m worried now that with a second wave, redeployment will be mentioned again. Why can’t people just stay at home? So simple, but they are just not following simple common sense! X
I hear you Marian. The same thoughts go through my mind too. What’s the point of listening to daily briefings on easing lockdown when crowds descend all over. Be it demonstrations or off to the beach. I understand motivations for doing both those things, but second wave pandemic is just not something I’d want to consider I was contributing to. X
Vampires and dwarfs and elves – oh my! Very gloomy and creepy tale you presented this month, and I really enjoyed the confrontation between Yish and the undead. So the dwarf beat it out of there, eh? I’m looking forward to the crossing of the paths. Loved the title!
Ha,ha, never even thought of it as vampires, dwarves and elves in quite that way! I will take gloomy and creepy any day Abe.
Naz didn’t run away as such, although the conversation leading to his departure doesn’t appear here so it does indeed feel like he beat it. The title came from the very last line too… aimed at me 😳
I have missed stepping into your chilly world…xx
And I have missed your comments upon my rambles Sam. I owe you an email too! Be on that shortly. So glad you didn’t come back on the loss of a certain brother mentioned in part 3 lol xx
I hadn’t forgotten…I just want to slip a word into your mind…”resurrection”…🤔x
Hmm, I’ve already written the two books with the brothers. Suffice to say one survives and I didn’t have Nicholas Flammel to create a certain stone. That said, you might like the end results in a twisted sort of way 😂 x
Dude…how long you going to keep me in suspense? (Had to correct that several times..my phone’s auto correct kept putting “suspenders”..🤔) x
A very good question! It’s like the proverbial albatross hanging about now 🤕
Still, quite liking your auto-incorrect 😂😂