Tag: Origins Series

The Fall

I was sitting in a tavern at a corner table, a pot of tea at my elbow, writing up my notes from my interview with the new royal family of Sehm. No one there knew who I was, or so I had assumed, but someone, somewhere, knew me, and knew where I was, because the young man didn’t even hesitate at the door. I was watching it when he came in, not that I was looking for anyone, I just happened to be looking in that direction, gathering my thoughts, when it opened. I noticed him immediately, and not just because he didn’t wait for his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the room before moving towards me. No, what I noticed was the smoothness of his walk, almost as though he was gliding over the floor. It was a poorly copied and over-exaggerated version of Reaper’s walk. On him it looked entirely natural, and not as though he were doing anything special, on the kid, it came off as an arrogant demand for attention, like a gun-slinger flinging back his jacket to clear the butt of his gun. That was the second thing that caught my eye. The first was his clothing. It wasn’t a uniform, but it was certainly worth a lot more than anyone else’s in that tavern, and was stain-free, which none of ours were. The young man stopped at my table and I blinked up at him in surprise. “Can I help you?” “My…

Interview with Ysmelda

Sehm is much as Reaper described it, an insignificant city trying too hard to appear important. There appear to have been a few changes since the regime change though, for one thing, the poor-quarter has shrunk to a few back alleys populated only by drunks. The old shop where Var’s temple appeared is gone, replaced by a new establishment selling scented candles that ward off the night-midges, and are thus very popular amongst the women of Astarte’s temple. The palace, with the frequent comings and goings of citizens and merchants, looks more like a guild-hall than the abode of a king, but a popular guildhall. Most of the people look happy, and even those who aren’t, don’t look fearful, just irritated. I wandered around freely until I heard the guards calling the hour, then I presented myself at the only guarded door in the palace, that leading into the royal apartments. The guard there asked my name politely, then sent a page boy inside with news of my arrival. He waited outside, studying me, not as though he saw me as a threat, but as though he was curious about something but too polite to ask. The page-boy returned and the guard let me into the apartment. I looked around quickly, and was immediately struck by how spartan everything was. The furniture was simple, comfortable, well-used but well-cared for. The room looked lived in, as though it was the sitting room in any house in the city. There were probably…

On The Berserk-Gift

[Translator’s Note: The first part of this book was damaged beyond the recovery of anything that made sense. All that was left was individual words and fragments of words. Fortunately, most of the section on the Berserk-Gift, short as it was, remained largely intact. It made for fascinating reading.] Even as recently as forty years ago, it was believed that the Berserk-Gift was a unique talent derived from the gods, and that it was entirely homogeneous. Hersmann’s1 great study, delving as it did into the particulars of all the known gifts, revealed both of these assumptions to be false. Her study showed that the Berserk-Gift is of the same type as both the Mage-Gift, which allows the mage to summon magic, or the Shifter-Gift2, which allows the shifter to change their form, and can, with proper training and the correct trigger, be turned to either of those ends. (See the sections on Mage Gifts and Shifter Gifts for a more in-depth discussion on the nature of those particular Gifts.3) The Berserk-Gift is unique from Divine Frenzy (see ‘On the Nature and Origin of the Gods’4 for more on this), though the two were, and, all too frequently still are, mistaken for each other, a fact which led to the misapprehensions surrounding the Berserk-Gift. The simplest way to differentiate the two, and the proof used by Hersmann, is that in a case of true Divine Frenzy the possessed loses all control over their own actions, and all awareness, not only of…

Interview with Strikes-With-Venom

This is an interview I did with Venom some time after writing Battle Pits… I mean, Gladiator. The publisher re-titled it. I left the first part in because, though it’s not really about Venom, it does indicate the sort of situation I was in when I did the interview. Also, some people complained about the sparsity of the description in Ba… Gladiator. So here’s a description of the town where I met Venom, written by me while I was… let’s say, a little the worse for drink. Enjoy.   Strikes-with-Venom hasn’t shown up yet and I’m bored. I’m also soused. I’m sitting in a stinking little tavern in a smelly little town in what can only be called, by an immense effort of imagination, the last civilised country on the western edge of the D’nuran Empire. A couple of days west of here lies the escarpment which marks the actual border, but there’s nothing between here and there but empty rolling hills occupied only by the occasional shepherd. Beyond the escarpment lies the High Plains, barbarian country. The land of the Marauding Tribes. Venom’s people. Given the history between the Plainsfolk and the Empire, you’d expect there to be a strong Imperial presence along the border. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a chain of fortifications of impressive size and strength here. No one would laugh at you for believing that the border was garrisoned by highly trained legionnaires who are constantly patrolling. The lack of laughs wouldn’t change…

Identity Thief

“What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?” asked Pin Wei. Reaper leaned back against the rock and drew deeply on his pipe. He held the smoke in while he thought about it, then sent up a long plume of smoke that broke up in the breeze that was whipping over the top of the narrow gully they were taking shelter in. “I dinna ken ifn it be th’ strangest, but t’were unusual, an’ all th’ fault o’ a young minstrel what liked ta embellish me stories an’ make ’em more… palatable-like.” Pin Wei snorted. “You’re always blaming minstrels for the way people treat you.” Reaper chuckled. “An’ ye dinna think tis all yer fault, eh lass?” “It’s not!” Reaper nodded. “Mebbe ye be right.” Pin Wei smiled. “But then ag’in, mebbe ye be wrong. Ye tell me.” He took another pull on his pipe and this time sent a flurry of smoke rings sailing away out of the gully. “So, this were a long span back, afore anythin’ what happened in Ishmek. I’d been out an’ about in th’ world some years, mostly fightin’ as a mercenary in one war or ’nother. People was startin’ ta know me name an’ ta want th’ glory o’ havin’ killed me, but dinna yet know th’ futility o’ tryin’.” Pin Wei snorted. Reaper quirked an eyebrow at her but when she didn’t say anything, he kept on with his story. “I’d just finished up a contract fer a bunch o’ merchants…