Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Four

“They weren’t kidding,” Arius muttered, hissing between the fence of his teeth, as he passed through the onion-shaped doorway and past a pair of blue-and-black attired halberdiers, armored head to toe in scales of several varieties, whose gaze never seemed to sway even as they surveyed gravely the contents within.  The chamber was monstrous, a feasting hall fit for a military legion, lined upon its mortared stone cobbles with the natural chaff refuse that would pick up the detritus and be discarded therewith within the course of not even a week.  The guardians, stone-faced, bore without the scars of convection wonderfully-constructed oil lamps etched predominantly in glowing brass, though the chamber was largely lit with the fires of a wrought-iron chandelier announced with painted candles detailing the passing of hours, invisible now to the occupants thereunder.  A single great bench—in reality several oaken benches tied in a great long team lined the entirety of the eerily silent chamber, otherwise vacuous and absent the rollicking spirit of wholehearted revelry.

The women were already present, seated and occupied broadly in idle conversation that barely raised above a murmur, dressed as they were in immaculate satins and luxurious silks decorated with gaudy and variegated golds, silvers, and gems that would give pirates and bandits fits alike, but for all this, besides the standing guards, there was not a single man present, not a single man to be seen, none at all but for the armored foreigner presenting himself, according to the direction of his bodyguard, in the fashion of a just recently restive soldier arriving triumphant from the field, pauldrons cast away but cuirass still gleaming.

He didn’t have quite the effect of his expectation—that he would hush the crowd and that all eyes would wander to his bulging biceps and throbbing thighs evident nevertheless under so much white linens; no, only a single woman had eyes for him, whose retinas tracked his progress while she commenced to speak buffoonery and nonsense to her conversation companion who seemed utterly unconcerned and glad more potential to speak on her own behalf.

“Matron Barsica,” he boomed with the practiced hyperbole of an oppositional herald, permitting himself the ablution of the salute, “Sir Arius son of Amellitus has arrived within your dining hall at your request.”

She acknowledged him merely, drawn with some irritation from a conversation with a scaled woman he did not recognize, and beckoned him with open palm seat himself opposite her beaming daughter.  In a several step motion, he did precisely that, clinking profusely as he sat himself upon this meager throne while he began to wonder the purpose of his presence in some detail.  Rina, eyes glowing like the imagination of a child, never blinked, nearly heaving to be in the presence of her fond hero.

Remembering his role, recalling his responsibilities, he asked her simply, “How was your day, my dear—enjoyable?  I must apologize for the profusion of sanguine cast before your sight.  It was never my intention.”

“Oh?” she replied, leaning back and adjoining the soles of her scaly feet with the site of his quivering genitalia, which involuntarily perked up at the sudden and unwanted physical attention, which brought an unexpected grin to the curl of her lips.  “If I had to say so, Sir Arius, I’d say you enjoyed it, something like the glee of an exhibitionist.”

“Heh,” he muffled, squirming about in vain to avoid the tracking of her taloned toes which became increasingly obvious to her neighbors.  “Anyways, where’s the rest of the men?  I was told the men and women eat opposite, not that the man and the women eat opposite.”

“Gul Ladal must have been playing with you,” she replied with a coy smile.  “I can count on both my hands the men that have eaten at this table.  You’ve been selected as something special, precisely what I’d expect from the man to be my husband.”

But this was too much to bear from the Ga Zakazra Barsica’s companion who, without introducing herself interrupted rudely, “You!  You there!  You’re the creature that killed my men this afternoon, slew them in broad daylight in a matter of moments and left there bodies there to rot.”

“Ahh, so you must be—.”

“Ga Zakazra of House Tyletus, and you couldn’t even wait long enough for us to retrieve the corpses.  As it were, they were picked clean by beggars and degenerates, and we could retrieve virtually nothing.  Do you have any idea how expensive was their equipment?”

“As dear as their lives?” he replied with a lash to his tongue.

“Heavens no.  You have no idea.”

“So have you come seeking recompense from the Matron Barsica or,” he licked his lips, “have you come seeking satisfaction from my hide?”

“He sits at the women’s table; he speaks his mind; he’s a murderer; and soon he’s to be a father in your house!  Can you even imagine it, a father?  Perish the thought.  No-one else will tolerate it, Barsica; I guarantee you!”

“And you speak with the forked tongue of a cruel old woman,” he replied with a sneer.  “You have insulted me as thoroughly as you have insulted my bride to be and the house that warms me!  Send me your best, and I shall send him down to hell, and then you can spend the next years chewing on your own miserable contempt as the product of my loins stains your city red with the blood of cowards and the impious!”

Turning Over a New Leaf

I hate certain idioms.

Anyways, things are going to be changing around here, but many things will remain unchanged.

  • The serials–Gregory Samuels and Sword of the Saints–will continue as normal.
  • Both books–Sagas of the Iron Hearts and Goliath Thunder–will become unpublished within a few months.
  • Sagas of the Iron Hearts will be thoroughly revised and provided additional content and thereafter republished under a different title.
  • Goliath Thunder will suffer similar treatment.
  • The Sword of the Saints book, which was nearly ready for republication, is going to go back under speculation.  Publication will probably occur more than a year from now.
  • There’s more, but this is the most notable.

I will be undergoing a very invasive rebranding effort, and all the content I’ve made so far will be a part of that very same.  Marketing strategies are changing thanks to the changing nature of online marketing platforms.

This is all very new to me, you see.  I certainly didn’t know what I was doing when I started, and with the changing nature of the various platforms available, the strategies I had been using had proven less and less useful.  This is exacerbated by the fact that I simply wasn’t selling books after the initial week of publication, and I couldn’t secure reviews to ensure readers that my material wasn’t a waste of money.  Traditional publishers have enough cash to simply pay reviewers to provide reviews of their product.  I simply don’t have that much liquid to throw around.

Anyways, this being the case, I basically wanted to start all over.  There’s no sense in trying to sell more books if no-one’s buying your already existing books.  So, I’m going to act as if I’m starting from the beginning aside from some very serious advantages I’ve accrued.

I Hate Reenactors

I could very well attach a certain graphic and leave the matter at that, but it would do nothing so soothe my long-remembered rage about this peculiar and perverted species only tangentially related to homo sapiens–the reenactor.

The reenactor is like a person and it’s usually male.  It’s old enough to have enough money to waste on frivolities, and it possesses enough time usually due to a lack of children, but not necessarily.  The reenactor lurks on large social media sites and occasionally smaller forums devoted specifically to their subject matter, but they can otherwise be found playing dress-up on community soccer fields in such regalia as would shame any right-minded man.

Honestly, I think I’m too mad to keep up this charade.  I once made the mistake of joining a group on a certain massive social media website that was devoted to reproduction of Hellenic customs, including warfare, on the grounds that I myself find the subject fascinating; I spent many years, after all, learning both Greek and Latin, and it wasn’t merely to impress my parents; they were rather set against the idea, actually.  I usually didn’t pay them these reenactors any attention, but I made the mistake of off-handedly mentioning something about the difficulties of fighting in tight formations with very large shields.  You couldn’t imagine the gravity of my mistake.

People I’d never met before, never talked to, both hurled abuse upon my person and otherwise defended my position, sending back and forth reply to reply to several persons faster than I could conceivably formulate a most concise counterpoint.  Shortly, and before I knew it, I was buried in a legion of replies of which I could do nothing.

It drove me insane, made me incensed, to consider that such creatures could waste such time and effort merely speculating on the nature of Hellenic warfare while being neither professionals in the subject matter nor even capable of reading Greek, whether modern or ancient.  I couldn’t stand listening to it.  Nothing being said had enough authority to be considered with any gravity.  But they were men, and the subject matter was warfare, and thus they considered themselves to be eminently knowledgeable, when in reality they had barely scaled the cliffs of mount stupid.

I removed myself from the group and ignored any request to join another group of the same nature.  Putting on a crested helmet and a silly shield you bought from ebay does not a specialist make.

In all honesty, I do a lot of research for the stories I write.  It’s a necessity.  I’ve read about weapons and manufacturing, fencing, even ships of oar.  The distinction is that I developed my knowledge from experts in the field, fencing masters and retired naval officers, and I wouldn’t pretend to inform another layman myself without having my books close at hand.

 

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 12

Midshipman’s Log Part 102

Gregory Samuels

October 22, 1252 CNS

post-it_14 conveyanceIt’s just one bad thing after another.  If I didn’t know better, I could swear someone was working against me, someone who knew me better than I did—could see what I’d do before I did it, before I even conceived it.  You’d be a fool not to wonder.  Anyways and thankfully, I still have access to a handful of cargo modules, as most of the ship’s been locked down; I can’t even get to the mess, can’t even make it to the internal transportation network.  Of course I’ve still got the cargo manifest.  I was even able to identify several objects I might find useful in prying open the doors—rather permanently I’m afraid; the bulkheads are as much an internal security network as a provision against explosive decompression; they’re as strong as starship armor, and there’s no way under the sun you’d ever peel through them with a hand-held torch alone.  I was able to discern wreathes of cording, pressure lifts, even a supply of thermite; it was all written there on the manifest.  Problem is, I went down the line looking for the thirty-seven digit designation and—well—it’s not there, none of it, like someone beat me to the punch and somehow absconded away with all of it.  Manifest’s now functionally useless.

I—I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know if I’m being punished or if I’m just out of my mind.  Am I responsible?  I just can’t accept that.  All that I’ve done, all that I’ve suffered—I refuse to believe that was all a creation of my imagination.  I’m not that clever.  I was never a creative man, never talented—never important.  No-one would come to weep at my funeral.

I’ve still got one bullet left.  I can pass it between my fingers, the factory imprint along the rear of the rim.  This can all be over, become someone else’s problem, a problem I can’t even conceive.  Or do I imagine myself a hero?  And what about Sally?  Don’t I have a responsibility, at least for her sake?

There’s got to be some solution, some amalgam of parts I can strip from the available cargo.  I know the doors are vacuum sealed and magnetically locked.  Is there any way I can use that?

I don’t know if anyone’s responded to our distress signal.

post-it_15 doctorI’m sorry.  This might be my last communication.  I just couldn’t stay.  I had to get out.  There’s just something so utterly wrong about other people.  If this is the last they’ve ever heard of me, check my medical records at the now-defunct offices of Dr.  Suppiliulimus.  Somehow, this is probably my fault.

Cheetahs

People love kitty cats.  They were among the original darlings of internet culture.  Their peculiar expressions and oblique demeanor trended them towards the very unique and memorable–that combined with their fairly impressive problem-solving skills and undaunted hunting instinct.  Dogs have never really received the same status.  They’re not very independent and altogether predictable in their behavior; this makes them bad television.  And while it seems that most households prefer to have dogs than cats, the internet has a much differently pronounced opinion.

Canines and felines compose fairly large families under the mammalian umbrella constituted in a great number of species, indicating the success of the model, but I would argue that canines are nevertheless more diverse in their physical form and behavior intended for different hunting and reproductive strategies.  A cat, however, is just a cat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a house-cat or a lion; they are all cats, and they all speak cat.  In fact, if you’re familiar with the physical cues and vocalizations of house-cats, you could probably read the very same with good accuracy in any species of cat under the sun.

It used to make me wonder why the other cats were never domesticated, sometimes never even tamed.  Sometimes I think that my own cats would eat me if they were only larger.  They’re ambush predators, and simply turning the back induces a powerful hunting instinct in this case only mollified by their small size, but if you tried the same thing with a tiger, no matter how much you might know that tiger, you might not live to regret it.

Now I mentioned that cats, in general, are ambush predators.  This means they try to get up real close to their prey and ideally pounced before their prey has the time to react, ensuring a clean and quick kill minus all the running and screaming.  This is why turning the back induces this hunting instinct, even if the animal might be completely sated.

Now Cheetahs are similar, but in a way they aren’t.  They certainly prefer to slink up to their prey and close the distance before being noticed, but thanks to their magnificent velocity, they don’t have to catch their prey unawares; they can just chase him down.  You might more appropriately call them chase predators.  So the interesting thing is, with a tamed cheetah, turning the back won’t induce a hunting response, meaning you can largely trust the animal when your focus is distracted.  Combine this with the fact that cheetahs often form social units of their own for mutual hunting, and you have an interesting animal.

Thanks to their sociability and hunting style, they can be tamed very successfully.  In the past, they’ve been used as prized hunting animals by kings in far off lands in activities that would simply be too dangerous with a tiger or lion.  And this has made me wonder, “Could they be domesticated?”  The most limiting factor I can think of is the cheetah’s requirement for a wide prowling area, about eight hundred square kilometers, which hardly any handler or enclosure could provide.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Three

“You probably think you were very clever,” began Gul Ladal, arms crossed in a father’s disapproval while leaning gently against the standing sandalwood cabinet.  “The Lady Rina is undoubtedly defiling her own person as we speak.  I could smell it on her in the streets, and I doubt passing strangers went utterly oblivious either.  You still have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, the danger this presents, both to your person and House Barsica at large.  I’m not trying to threaten you when I say this.  But you have to understand that this is a dangerous place and that I’m the only friendly face you’re going to see, Rina included.”

“Why would I be precious to you?”

“I could say that it’s because ‘It’s my job.’”

“But?”

“Frankly, I don’t want to explain.”

“You know, I could begin,” Arius turned, slow and shivering drawing the dusty garments from his spasmodic form, “by pointing out that this is no business of mine, that I never asked to be stolen, never asked to be a slave, that only by the fear of foreign death do I consign myself to utterly sleepless nights with a woman I could never love.  I’m just trying to survive.”

“I don’t think even you believe that.”

Arius smiled in return, at last exposing the heavily scarred fore and rear of his upper torso as he gently slipped into the acrid bath abounding in little bubbles.

“Heavens above,” Gul Ladal exclaimed in disgust, drawing his lips wide as if evidencing the precise handiwork of an experienced serial killer, “where in the hells did you get that?”

Dragging the dull excretion of lye and tallow across his suddenly fragile frame, he mostly smiled, saying only, “The punishment for failure is generally simple.”

“And you call us ‘animals.’”

“It’s often that the difference between life in death lies not in the mind but rather in the muscle.  You don’t think.  You react.  Pain is a more glorious teacher than a chalk-board, and god knows there’s no shortage of sinners to be dispatched at the end of a shining point.”  He paused, moving the bubbles about playfully in his hands.  “My family’s been in the legion since the very beginning.  We all were once, but eventually the demands proved too much for many, and they fell to the mundane.”

“Says a liar, a gambler, and a cheat, who’s had more women—I have no doubt—than I’ve had warm meals.”

“True, true,” he replied, yawning his tired frame to rest the nape of his neck on the lip of the washing basin.  “Began when I was young; had my first prostitute when I was thirteen.  My first sexual experience was somewhat earlier than that.  Didn’t know enough to say ‘no,’ and she seemed so pretty, at least that’s what she told me.”

“And I thought my life was unusual.  Mysterious how such as you can remain so sacred, at least in someone’s reckoning.”

“Moral caliber has nothing to do with it, moral caliber as at least people understand it.  As long as I do the legion’s work, I could despoil whole cities of their women and still linger in the unlikely running of a saint.  Those things don’t matter.  I’m not a hero, I’m a jailer, and that’s something the rest of the world has never understood.”

“I don’t know what to make of you.”

“Well what do you make of dinner?”

“You’re going to ruffle a lot of feathers.  You’ll be the only human there, in fact.  The males and females eat segregated, but they sit opposite each other.  Of course you’ll sit opposite the Lady Rina, who will undoubtedly chew your ear off, anything to prevent herself from raping you on the spot and ruining her good family name.  She’ll want to sing your praises and discuss the little victories of the day.  She’ll want to show off her prize.  Meanwhile, her mother’s going to be sweating bullets at the implications of all of it.  Better to leave her to her ruminations with the Ag Zakazi, who probably won’t stand to even look at you.”

“No no, I meant what are we having for dinner?”

“I’m glad it was you that killed the slaver that took you.  I would have done it more slowly.”

Crushed

I have to say it’s disheartening to see what I’ve seen.  People whose work I find fascinating being pushed off their publication platforms because either they themselves or their content is deemed “dangerous,” for being little more than counter-culture all the while the real animals at ISIS are given free leave to publish beheadings on Youtube.  I honestly don’t know what their endgame is.  You can’t unring the bell.  People have already seen the wondrous potential the internet has to offer, and most of them aren’t going to be willing to go back to network television.  By going after new content creators, by going after their money–how do I put it?  It’s like pouring concrete in the swimming pool to keep the darker races from socially mixing with whites.  Now no-one gets to swim.  Perhaps people think there’s some wisdom in spite.  I don’t think most people think this way, however; it’s the archaic profit apparatus of the legacy media and the ancient wrinkled mummies that own them.  They want the world remade in their own image; they don’t want a future owned by those that will actually live in it.

George Soros can go eat a bag of fucking dicks.  Asshole never saw a gold filling that he didn’t like–if you understand what I’m saying.

Of course, this has already happened to me.  The marketing model I was using, and quite successfully, was ripped out beneath my feet, but it doesn’t feel better but worse to see it happening all around.

I would say that it’s important to remain positive, but that isn’t truly correct.  It’s important to remain determined.  Not your pity but your courage has so far saved the unfortunate.

We are winning, and we will continue to win, but only if we remain determined.  As it is, many will lose heart with the continuous strokes of miserable fate, but we have to remember that we represent the new media, a new model of doing things, something infinitely more efficient than what the opposition could ever hope to offer.  In the free marketplace of ideas, among other things, we hold the winning hand.  It’s just the losers that are so good at bluffing.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 11

Midshipman’s Log Part 101

Gregory Samuels

October 17, 1252 CNS

I just wish that something would happen.  After all that madness just a few days ago—I admit I haven’t slept much in the mean-time—to just fall into this steady pace of zero progress.  I think I’ve begun to miss the noise; all that’s left me is the dull rumbling of the lonely engines and the occasional hissing switch of the hydraulics to keep you on your feet.  But there’s nothing else—no whisper of whatever monstrosity nearly tore out the bulkhead, no hint of my erstwhile comrades looming like grinning shades at my bedside.  I could believe that it’s all in my imagination—but how to explain the annihilated bulkhead?  High out of my mind or lost in the throes or psychosis, I don’t think even I would prove so capable.  Perhaps I especially would prove insufficient.  I should stop rambling on.  This isn’t going to prove of any use to you.  If in the future I should have gone silent, assuming I’m still alive, I will leave leaflets in sealed cargo containers detailing my progress, detailing my frame of mind.  Anyways, let me get to the meat of it.

post-it_13 cargo manifestSomeone’s been real busy the last few days.  I’d be convinced there’s someone else alive on the ship the way this is going if just fucking anything would show up on the closed-circuit surveillance system.  Someone’s always just a few steps ahead of me, closing off bulkheads and deactivating the lights—in one particularly brutal case I was nearly asphyxiated when in a closed section someone shut off the life support on me.  Luckily, it’s actually somewhat harder to kill a man; even bad air can support a reasonably healthy young man for a good period of time, long enough to fumble about with the half-rusted plasma torch long affixed upon the wall.

For all my hard work, I haven’t been able to make it to the armory, which has me really worried.  If they can manipulate the ship to this extent, can they break the armory’s encryption?  Of course, I know where they’d likely be, holed in the command module, but that just shouldn’t be possible.  It was well locked behind me.

I can’t risk seeing Sally.  Whatever they are, I don’t want them being curious about her.

I’ve gotta get some sort of trump card, something that allow me to side-step all this additional and unnecessary security.  Might be something I could use in the cargo.  I think the situation is sufficiently fucked to justify this sort of theft.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Two

“How may I help you gentle…men, I said gentlemen, gentlemen—gentlemen, this morning—this afternoon?  Basking in the luxurious spray of the warden quay?  Out for an afternoon stroll to the pier?” quizzed Arius, gazing upon the severe and unblinking countenance of a snaggle-toothed lizard bearing an unfamiliar livery and closely attended by a bored-looking scaly spearman resting the broad rim of his ponderous shield across the bulge of his upper shoulder.

A head shorter and far too lackadaisical, Arius was virtually beneath their contempt, but they nevertheless barred the way with broad-chested bravado and school-yard bullishness.  Before they found form to masticate the words of their hissing tongue they were preceded by the officious candor of the bodyguard Gul Ladal.  “I recognize you, Sfernor and Slafnr, scions of House Tyletus.  Know yourselves to stand in the presence of the wards of a superior house.  Retire immediately and make way for the property of the primary house or doom yourselves to the clear-sky consequences, gurgling your inbred ichor from between your shattered teeth as you sputter your last in the desert dust.”

The incipients, callous with inculcated apathy, locked their gaze with sneering brutishness upon their golden opponent and replied, “The man-thing is ours to take, as right as any other.  You know the law.  He isn’t of the people, and if you cannot prevent him than we shall do as we please.”

They had answered badly.  Gul Ladal grasped his furious glaive tight, prepared ever since the day of his seniority to carry his obligations to the very last, seething now to thrash beneath their embroidered shields the whole of them into a fine paste no more fit than to be the chum of fishermen, but the friendly palm of his recent charge slipped comfortably up his shoulder, and the cavalier declared in a whisper, “You know, I have absolutely no doubt your prowess, but leave these to me.  It will be pedagogical to match my might against theirs, especially should there ever be need again.”

Gul Ladal, burning with the ire of their disrespect would have none of it, though the cavalier proceeded regardless.  Grunting with emasculation the bodyguard snapped his vision to his remaining responsibility in earnest, but the sight of so-far silent Rina, bounding in place upon her supple feet and eyes wide and moist with the apperception of raw potential, ameliorated his public shame, and he traced his steps backwards and ceded him the field.

“You both have such cute faces,” began the paladin, slowly drawing the unrelentingly pale blade from its sun-stained scabbard as they adopted a defensive stance, virtually invisible behind the heavy bulwark of the broad-rimmed shields punctuated by the broad spear-points meandering just close by.  “Let us not rest on ceremony.  I have not the time or the energy to waste my afternoon on you.  Fools you must be to contend so openly with your betters, the facsimile of soldiers that have never seen more campaign than abusing crooked slaves and your immediate inferiors.”  Grinning mischievously, he lowered himself into a fool’s stance, blade pointed earthward and remaining arm cast wide, mocking with the winking eyes of open contempt.

“A bit of old soldier’s magickry,” he decried within, dipping the point of his sword into the dusty turf, before casting the blinding spray into the unsightly visage of one, who coughed and spat and screamed and clutched meaninglessly at his temporarily blinded eyes, while his companion spattering the devil-speak of the subhuman confidently lunged with his ashen spear forward and forward and forward—and ever more criminally—until he over-extended himself, and his skewering implement lodged firmly and uselessly under the grasp of Arius’s left shoulder.  In desperate recrimination, the slithering lizard drove his broad-rimmed shield forward like a star eschewing the sky, but was himself yanked forwards and forwards and forwards and found himself falling helplessly upon the presented point of the sparkling blade that penetrated within and through the spine and left him there dead and done in mere moment.

His companion had by now barely cleared the obstruction from his gaze.  Having clattered the monstrous shield from his hands, he was careful not to scratch the gleaming blaze of his own spear point within the undesirable features of his own broad countenance.  Only through tears and hazy view could he witness the wide swing of that pale edge that beheaded spear and bearer alike, tossing what few seconds remained of his vision dizzily into the air to come familiar with a squirrel’s perspective, spewing blood from shattered vertebrae upon the ground.

“Filthy creatures,” Arius remarked, prodding the slowly stiffening bodies with his boot.  “Filthy creatures.”