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Below are the 13 most recent journal entries recorded in Paul's LiveJournal:

Thursday, January 12th, 2012
7:43 pm
If you come across this, comment here
I would like feedback on the first chapter, and if requested I may post more.
So post your feedback in response to this (It should be on top for a while, heh).
Friday, December 30th, 2005
2:57 pm
He could see the red tint of the dawn reflected on every damp, glistening blade of grass. He knew he had made it. Those were the rules after all. Survive until dawn, and a boon would be granted. And there it was, he could see the edge of the red sun peeking over the top of the forest. The trees looked black in the green light, strangely ominous in this, his moment of triumph.

The chase had been exhausting. There had been moments where he was sure they had him. The scratches over his body stung from the sweat seeping into them. His clothes were torn, and he was drenched with sweat and as the adreinaline drained from his system he could feel the cold seeping back into his limbs. His muscles were already cramping, tightening as he slowly lowered himself to the ground. He collapsed in what appeared to be slow motion, disbelief at his survival slowly becoming replaced with exultation. He had done it. He had played their damnable game, and won it.

He had had no choice really. With the boon he could ask for anything. He could replace his stolen tools and open his shop again. He knew that he could ask for a considerable sum of money. He would have enough for the dowry. His life would be set. And he had done it. He heard a howl, still quite some ways off. They would arrive soon, but it was too late. They couldn't deny that he had won. He finished his collapse into the damp, soft grass and closed his eyes, exhaustion overwhelming him, dreams of the life he would have dancing before him.

A sharp pain woke him. "Get up" growled a harsh voice. "It's over. We've been hunting you, and you survived until dawn. You'll have your request now. Nothin' says we hafta be gracious about it."

"You know what I want. I asked about it in advance. I've better sense than to risk my life for a reward you might not be willing or able to give."

"Oh, this?" The man pulled a money pouch from his belt, and bounced it in his hand. The other hunters were circled around the two watching the exchange. It was still barely light, and each one was cast in stark shadows, pools of darkness covering portions of their bodies. Their grins were almost feral, the men appearing more animal than human. But nothing to fear. The prize was his.

"If that's the money you showed me before, then yes. I'll be having it now." The hunter tossed him the money. He caught it while rising, and it almost seemed as if the bag itself carried warmth and life anew. The weight was right, and opening it he saw that the money he'd asked for was there. They'd kept their end of the bargain, and he'd survived the hunt. It'd been close. There were times where they'd been near. He'd heard the sounds in the darkness, sworn he could smell the stench of rot and blood they carried with them. There had been periods of running, and hiding, and splashing through streams to throw off the scent the time they'd caught up to him with the dog. But he'd done it. Barely ahead almost the whole time, and then he finally lost them, just long enough to make it until dawn.

The talker smiled at him, that smile they always used. You couldn't quite tell if it was actually a smile, or merely a baring of teeth. A predator's grin. He nodded, what appeared to be an affirmation of the effort. An acknowledgement of the satisfaction of a hunt. And then they pounced. The mean in the circle ran in past him, tore at the living body of the man. Their teeth ripped flesh from bone, their fingernails clawed gore from his body to be feasted upon. And the man still smiled his smile, and spoke silently. "They always taste best when they think they've outsmarted us. Nobody promised that the hunt would end when the boon was granted. Perhaps he should've chosen more wisely." The others cackled, a high pitched grating noise, and then made room for the pack leader to join the feast, steam rising from the gaping chest cavity of what once was a human being.
Friday, July 1st, 2005
8:05 am
Sometimes
        Yeah. I really don't know. I was going to comment on the comic I'm reading. Then I changed my mind, and thought I'd say something else. But I don't know what. It's a kind of... vague grayness. The world doesn't have me down. I'm floating still, and even with the weight I normally have dragging me back I find myself bouyant enough to stay up. But I'm looking down on it, and thinking "Wow. Do I carry that with me every day? Is that where the bile of my anger and sadness, the venom in my words, the salt in my tears comes from? I was inspired to post, as I said, by a comic. My favorite, one called Transmetropolitan. I've mentioned it before. It's finished, which is nice. The story ends. It had a 5 year run. It's about a journalist. If you like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" you'll probably like the comic. Though there are other reasons to like it too. But it makes me think of how I want to write sometimes.
        I wish I could see enough of the world again to share it with everybody. Take them back to the places I've been, and take all of you with you. I realize that's one of my great wants, why I write here about the stars above while I sit by the pool. Or sunrise over one of the world's largest Buddhist temples. Or any of a great number of other things. It's because I have seen wonders. I've seen magic. Not the sort of magic that makes girls levitate, or even the sort that turns princesses into frogs. I've seen real magic, the kind that takes a friendless, angry boy and makes him weep with the beauty in the world. Squeezes him until the tears come out as colors, sounds, smells, textures, tastes all carry him through places he could never imagine, but that exist within the world you yourself occupy. I took a friend to one of my special places here. The place between two buildings where the wind blows. It's not amazing, not a natural wonder, but when you stand there in the constant breeze with someone, there's just a feeling. There are places like this everywhere, places of personal power. Places that have meaning to you. Experiences that can drive you to your knees.
        I've been up the Mahakam on Kalimantan Timur (East Borneo) and seen longhouses still lived in, shrunken monkey heads because the hunting of humans has been made illegal (though I was told practice still existed deeper inland.) I was given a blowgun, and asked to try to shoot a small man-shaped target, and missed horribly. Then I was shown how it's done properly, the dark skinned man clustering his shots tightly in the middle of the torso. I later bought a blowgun, the darts little more than a piece of cork and a thin metal needle that is commonly coated with poison. The needle was machine made, a piece of the modern world that served more primitive needs. I've tasted their food, but that's a memory lost to me. I was young, and in my youth didn't know the value of my experience. Every new experience, every new thing has immeasurable value to the soul. And I want to share it with you.
        I want to go back. Return to Indonesia and go up the Mahakam. See the temples around Yogyakarta, the volcanoes on Java. Return to Denpasar and Bali, and buy a real Kris, and scan a picture of it to share. Dive around Sulawesi. I want to return to Singapore and walk the rest of the city, see the parts that I didn't see when I was a child. Take a picture of the Merlion at night. I want to return to Pakistan. I remember an excruciatingly hot day, and tombs of some sort, but I was exceptionally young and the heat impressed me more. I want to return to Germany, and Spain, and Portugal. I want to eat beside the Rock of Gibralter. I want to go to places I've never been. Scotland, Ireland, Alaska. I want to see as much as I can and put into words what I learn from the world. I took you with me once on a day here in Austin. I want to carry you all on my shoulders out there as well. I'm going to see if I can borrow some old photo albums from my mother, and stir up some memories for all of you. If so, you'll get some posts (and maybe some scans). Though if I do travel the world again, ever, I want to take someone with me this time.
8:05 am
I...
I felt like writing today. Just here. I don't have anything specific to say, but my fingers are wandering over the keyboard anyway, just sorta spilling a stream of consciousness out into this digital void. My mind, as it is, spread thin and translucent over an infinite surface that any who care to look can poke and prod at. Because that's all I am here, a mind. I series of thoughts expressed sequentially as my will exerts itself to share them. For all you know I could be three people who take turns writing entries. Or a very clever dog. True, some of you have met me in person, or talked with me over the phone, or by any number of ways think you've confirmed my existence. But what do you know? You have memories of me, memories you accept as fact. But have you ever asked yourself something like "Now, who did I see that movie with again? It was such a long time ago..." What if one of those people came up and claimed you'd seen the movie with her. What if she said "Hey, do you remember when we went to..." Then the movie would be set. If she could fill in enough details here or there, the memory's as good as new and she's in it. Even if she wasn't there. Our memories are pieces of ideas, fragments fit together by pattern recognition. Look up into the sky during the day and you see clouds. Sometimes they have shapes that you see as an elephant, or a face, or a house, or something else entirely. But to someone else who's never seen an elephant, it's just a cloud. Or maybe something different entirely. You look at the night sky and all it contains are tiny points of light. But your mind can structure images, shapes even among those. What about TV? Colored points of light that from a distance great enough form an image. Your mind takes the fragments of ideas left from events that has occured to you and contstructs something out of it. Sometimes it's like the TV where the points are many and vibrant. But over time they fade. The night sky is more fitting then. So, do you really know me, those of you out there who think they've met me? What about me do you know. Do you remember my face when you saw it? What color were my eyes? Which side is my mole on? What did my voice sound like? How tall was I really? How skinny? How bleeding heart? How depressed? Do you know my favorite color, my favorite flavor? How many of these facts even matter in knowing ME? Am I a construct of my opinions? Am I a construct of my actions? A combination of those, or neither? Am I what I look like? I certainly am to those who've never talked to me. In every person who has ever seen me there's a version of me distorted simply by what they've observed. Do I even know the true me? I look at myself but just like anyone else, I'm an observer. I only know how I act in situations I've been in. How I think I would act in situations I can imagine. But what about those I can't?

So I ask: Who are you. What do you think is the single most important describing aspect of yourself? Or the most important three? Share that. Your best moment. Your worst moment. Who you are.
8:04 am
Quandary
I look out the window. It's 2:28 AM by the hideous yellow-green numbers lit up on my cable box. The world outside is still, tinted by the orange lights of the complex. Behind me the sleeping one mutters, snores. A question comes out clearly, as if he were awake, but I know those meant to answer exist solely as constructs of his subconscious mind, ideas from the day unravelling themselves back into the gentle slopes of rational thought.

I've been walking under those lights. I move about the still buildings. You could almost forget people lived here. Sometimes I wish they didn't. Sometimes I wish I could open any door here, see the empty apartment. The white walls unobstructed by furniture. The empty space. Lie down on a carpet in a completely abandoned room, and stare at the ceiling, and listen to my audio player as it moves from one track to the next, a soundtrack for my life being fed to my ears by tiny copper cables from magnetic platters in a box in my pocket. Technology provides us such wonderful things, but rarely do we use it well. The box in my pocket holds so much. My writing, my music, audiobooks. It has the information necessary to recall my PGP key should anything go wrong. I plan to put a simple word processor on it for various OSes if I can find stand-alone files, so I can write anywhere I can plug it in. For me, it is my data, the information I need to keep with me always.

My eyes open, my thoughts return to what I see outside the window. 8 minutes have passed. Nothing visible has moved, save the rustling of the leaves. Outside is teeming with life. Insects, lizards, small animals surely scurry about. But they remain hidden here, the lost cats of departed residents prowl the night seeking sustenance. On nights such as this I've walked to the pool. The sky is clear enough tonight I may do it again. The light is dim, but not actually dark; it is bright enough to read by should I choose. But I won't. I'll lie on a chair, the faint bubbling of the water filtration soothing my ears as perhaps a gentle breeze caresses my exposed face. The stars above are clear in the sky, their sharp white holding back the encroaching black of the cosmos. And I press a button over my heart, the small controller clipped to my shirt. A beep sounds in my hears, and tiny motors spin to life. And sound is pumped to me. Perhaps music. Perhaps a reading of whatever audiobook I have prepared. And I let myself escape this world, let myself float among the stars. I look up and there is nothing but the sound in my ears, the stars before me, and myself.

And then I'm done. I've landed, something breaks the magic and I've returned to the Earth. I stand, and walk the paths of the complex, winding between and through buildings, tracing an outline of the overall shape. Up stairs, down on the other side, a shadow of real exercise. And then I cross the parking lot, to follow the fence. A laughable construct, with boards missing in many places, gaps well large enough to let any healthy man pass and probably many along the path to obesity. I look through and see another complex, more buildings, a world to explore. But not yet. Not tonight. Tonight I walk back, cutting across the sandy volleyball court. I leave footprints, transitory marks that prove my existance until morning comes and children leave their own.

I walk out the gate and stop before the black tar river. The buildings before me are larger, empty with the night. And each of them cries to me. They beg me to walk their corridors, learn the byways of their interiors. Explore. But I don't have the courage. I know which ones are empty; which are still occupied by day. I want to climb them, discover the topography of their roof. I want to sit in the privacy of the rooftop and somehow maintain my electronic connection with the world. Look down at the flat around me, and from my perch write. Put my words into electronic format and shove them up the ass of the internet where few of the public will ever find them.

I step away from the blinds, let them fall back into place. The buildings are there. The pathways have been walked before, and I shall walk them again. The walls await scaling; perhaps a fire escape? Perhaps not. Perhaps I shall sit by a loading dock, on the cold cement of the parking lot, and type from there. There is no internet there, no diaphonous wireless broadcast signal to allow me my almost ubiquitous contact with the world. But perhaps... perhaps I have another way. Even now ideas spark in my head. Cellular communications, the tools I already have. Maybe tomorrow night I will.

But tonight I lay here, in my chair in near darkness. And my fingers twitch as letters fill the screen. Why do people love the day?
Thursday, January 29th, 2004
11:09 pm
A short story
It was the eve of the 16th day of the third month of what would come to be known as the War of Heroes, a war to end all wars... The dread sorcerrer Xel'then had risen from the grave through powers unknown, and had marshalled the armies of the kingdom of
Erelia, and through his mastery of dark magic, and their brute force, had conquered a large portion of the largest content on the world of Ell.

As dawn spread its orange light across the fields around Dendal, a fortress-city near the western coast, Ilmena gazed out from atop the southwest tower. At first glance it appeared as if the fields were empty, and a second glance verified that as true. But she knew better... Xel'then was clever, and he had already taken many towns by surprise, catching them off guard through the use of his dark sorcery. But invisibility was a minor illusion, and she was confident her formidible sorcerous power would be capable of piercing his illusions. In fact Ilmena was confident that not only would she be able to face Xel'then, but that she would be able to confront him, for she was surely one of the greatest sorceresses in Dendel.

As she stretched her arms over her head, and paced along the wall, watchin through both natural and magical means, the hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end, and she felt an unnatural chill descend over the tower. She spun around, but even as she attempted to draw mana from the world around her, she felt an icy chill surround her, preventing her from tapping into the energy of the world around her...

A deep, slow, rumbling laugh began to echo around her, and a gravelly voice drifted from the shadows... "So... you would match your piddling powers against mine, whelp? And yet, what power have you, pitiful one, unable to even draw the force you need to cast at me."

A hooded figure appeared in front of her, his body seeming to form out of the air, beginning as a faint mist, then thickening, darkening, gaining in solidity until before her stood a fairly formidable looking being. In a desperate attempt, Ilmena drew from within herself, drained her pool of reserved magical energy, and focused everything in one attempt to strike down her formidable foe. With a scream of defiance, she hurled a tremendous ball of fire towards the figure, and it, caught by surprise, was hit with the full brunt of the attack, and as the fireball exploded, and she was flung from her feet, she lost site of him in the flames...

Once more the deep, resonant laughter echoed atop the tower, and as the flames and smoke faded, the figure stood still...
"So, you were more powerful than you seemed... That was unexpected, but hardly a threat. My master need hardly concern himself if you are the best your order has to offer."
With an idle gesture of his hand, the figure flung a bolt of energy, and Ilmena felt pain surge through her body, as every particle of her being strove to seperate itself from every other. With a scream of agony, Ilmena dissipated, and with a simple nod, the hooded figure simply vanished, only an echo of his laughter remaining...
Thursday, January 8th, 2004
10:20 pm
In case you're wondering
Yes, this story is not very exciting... Neither was the previous one.. Sorry it's a little slow at the moment.
A) I've been a little out of it... I'm sorry. I suck. For all umm... if anyone checks for updates, once my birthday hits (the 12th) and school starts (the 12th) I'll actually be updating more. (There's a nice break between classes perfect for posting such things.)
B) What I'm doing now is establishing the technological level of my science fiction world... Hovercars, wheeled cars, magnetic harpoons. Stuff like that. I want to establish the level of advancement beyond our day before I truly begin to develop the plot. And there ARE a few things I've revealed here which will be important. You should be thinking about why the relatively low-tech poon solution, why the briefcase as opposed to some sort of probably far more effective delivery (though I haven't revealed robotic drones YET, they're there.)
C) I'm still trying to develop a solid persona for my character, and I'm a little uncomfortable writing as him fully, as it's hard to keep the persona close enough to consistent, so I may be rewriting some of these stories later (if I do, the originals will NOT be removed).
10:15 pm
The pickup went well enough, and the car they provided was a pretty nice set of wheels... or fans... or whatever... don't ask me how hovercraft work... As far as my learnin' went, they were less efficient than normal wheeled cars, but people felt like using 'em, and I would admit that being so lightweight gave it an edge in maneuvering. I'd always imagined driving one would be like rowing a boat across ice, but they'd managed to get it to handle quite a bit like an old car. I pulled onto the highway and reached a nice clip of about one-twenty (that's kilometers per hour for those of you who may yet be wonderin'). I knew the trip wasn't particularly long, and I'd driven this route before, or close enough... lots of empty countryside. I suspected from the attempt on the wellbein' of my head-bone earlier that whatever was in this suitcase was more valuable than its battered appearance belied. And sure enough, there behind a rock, a faint thermal signature. I was cautious as I drove by, but the stone was masking it enough that I couldn't tell if it was a person, maybe a copcycle in waiting, or some moderate sized animal in the wilderness.
As I passed the rock, nothing happened, and as I made the decision that it must have been a wildcat, I heard a faint "whump" and I knew things were about to finally get interesting... It's a sound becoming more and more familiar, a magnetic harpoon. Usually used for tracking, you can hear them if your hearing's good enough, or your car quiet enough. Or in the case of this one, it was just damn loud. I looked in my mirror and realized why... this one was big.. By big I meant about two and a half centi's in diameter, and behind it trailed a cable. As these registered with my eyes, an alarm started to sound, and red lights flashed distracting me from the obviously important matter at hand... Apparently my employers had not seen fit to trust my obviously well developed by their own money no less) senses and had installed an alarm system that not only told me about any such issues, but alerted the attacker to the fact that I knew as well... Wonderful. Trust corp-types to have a lack of common sense.
And then an answer exposed itself, the only one I could take now that I knew my tracker/attacker was aware of my being aware of.. um.. yeah, his presence. But what I saw was useful... an LCD screen had exposed itself, and it had a variety of countermeasures... One of which detected the polarity of the attached magnet, and generated a same-polarity field, repelling it and detaching it from the car... I wasn't sure what I was attached to, but with some tricky driving... and there it was, the opportunity...
I cut off a four-trailer semi pulling a massive delivery, I knew it had enough power to jerk whatever I was about to be anchored to, and cut it off, flipping the field on simultaneously... In the mirror I saw the anchor fall away, and YES, there it was, it clipped on the side of the cab, I knew whoever had 'pooned me would be in for a touch of trouble...
Unfortunately, the rest of the trip was rather dull... and since I couldn't catch the harpooner, I was without further leads... I knew tampering with the briefcase was pointless, it surely have countermeasures, and the best I could hope for was incinerating the contents.
The delivery went over as expected, and I headed back to my apartment, a variety of thoughts flopping through my head. The harpoon bothered me... the cable probably wasn't anchored, the odds of the magnetic bond being strong enough to cause damage to my car were minimal... which could only mean it was going to drag something with it... either a weapon of some sort, maybe on a reel that would get closer and detonate, or a living follower... but it didn't make sense, there were much more effective ways to track... A simple tracker, and following the signal... if the car had a blocker, maybe... it just didn't make much sense to me yet... There were always ways...

With these thoughts cycling in my head, I lay down and "went to sleep." Maybe after eight hours of thought, something would come up.
Saturday, December 20th, 2003
9:42 pm
As the red haze cleared from my... well.. might as well call it vision, I noticed that things weren't quite as they had been moments before. Most noticeable was the fact that my head was mere inches from the floor, and I wasn't quite sure as to the cause of its rapid relocation. The usual cause would be something along the lines of a forcible application of a blunt object to my cranium, and I had to assume that was what occured, and since I had a fairly clear view of three hundred 'n sixty degrees 'round me, that led me to assume that either my assailant was very quick, very clever, or both. In this age of cybernetic implants, quick was a pretty common thing, but this foe would have to be several large leaps beyond even what the military was currently wiring their men up with, so I would have to assume the clever option. All this passed through my head, but I was already reacting even as I began to analyze the situation. I had, after all, been a detective for years, and on the force before that, and nowadays you don't stay non-dead if you aint quick on your feet, or returning to your feet as the case was.

As I stood up, I'd already taken in the situation around me. The hallway was empty, as far as I could tell. None of the other tenants were nearby, nor anyone else who could've been the cause of my assault. If it weren't for the pain and growing lump on the back of my head, I might've assumed I'd just fallen over on my head, but obviously something had made contact with the back of my head, and either it wasn't registering to any of the various frequencies of light I was receiving, or more likely it had been launched at me... yes, there it was on the ground behind me. A small metal ball, about the size of a shooter marble... I was lucky my skull wasn't cracked, or worse. But that led to the obvious questions of "Who" and "Why." I figured both of these could be answered rather readily once I made it to work... Y'see, I'd been called in for a case, and I figured whoever had launched this attack wanted to preempt my investigation. A little different from what I was used to, since I was more often the hunter than the hunted in the past, but I could play this game until they slipped, if they hadn't already. I was still concious, and it clearly wasn't their goal to kill me, or I'd be dead. I picked up the ball carefully, being sure to avoid as best I could smudging any prints that could be on it, then began the short walk to work.

I took the stairwell outta the complex, it was only a couple floors up to the transportation level and it'd give me a little more time to think than the elevator would, and besides, if anyone was gonna make a second attempt, it might draw them into the open. As I'd said, I was usually the hunter, and in a game like this the roles could be reversed at any moment, if one took the right opportunity, and there wasn't no way I was missin' mine. Sadly, the walk up the stairs and the following bus trip were uneventful. I shortly met up with my contact at the cafe, and explained why I was a few minutes late. The case was fairly simple, and I couldn't really see why anyone would want me outta the way, and neither could my contact. I was hardly even a case, more of a retrieval. Nearly all the work had been done. Something had been stolen, they had retrieved it. They wanted me to be a stinkin' errand boy and go pick it up across town and drive it to one of their offices a couple dozen miles outta the city. Ah well, they were payin' my bills, so I would play by there rules, y'know? I got in my car and began the drive across town, wondering why on earth someone was playing marbles with my head over the delivery of this little suitcase...
Wednesday, December 17th, 2003
7:06 am
Another story begins
This is just an unrelated story, playing with scifi ideas in my head. 'cuz I can, and because I want to write online, here, but I don't want to post the rest of what Chapter 1 came from (though I may show it to some close friends by request as I complete it.)


The rain splattered down against the glass ceiling above me. But then, even someone with eyes wouldn't need to look to be able to tell that. What I was fairly certain they wouldn't notice was faint sound of breathing coming from my closet where yet another would-be assassin waited to make an attempt on my life. This one was celeverer than the last, he wore a rather effective thermally sealed suit. I'd have to look into how he got such effective concealment after I took care of him. But that could wait, I knew he would wait until I went to bed, and I didn't even enter my bedroom regularly until two hours from now. Any deviation from schedule might tip him off. Not that I needed sleep. You see, I was an experiment, one that went a little better than I think even my creators hoped for...

Nine months ago, I was your regular private dick. I got payed by jealous wives and husbands, little old ladies missing cats. You name it, I would find it out. And not to be boasting or anything, but I was pretty damn good. Everything done in a timely manner, and most times I even stayed within the bounds of the law. Hell, the cops even had a friendly nickname for me, "Indy," on accounta' the fedora hat I always wore. I'd seen a few too many classic movies in my time. Anyway, so one day things go a little more wrong than I'd bargained for, and I end up exposed to a flash freeze. It was miraculous that I survived it, but my optical tissue was destroyed. Something about the sudden drop in temperature damaging or breaking cell walls, I'm not too clear on my biology, but for two months I was sightless. Then this guy shows up with an offer too good to be true. Apparently he'd gotten word of my reputation as a detective, some of my bigger cases required a considerable amount of actual investigation as well as evidence collectin' and all that, and needed to enlist my aid. Said it was a bit dangerous, but as a payment he'd offer me my sight back. Who'd turn down an offer like that.

Three weeks later I was strapped to an operatin' table, some white-coats pokin' their instruments in my head. No new eyes, but I gotta, what was it, "subdermal sensor network" all over my head. As close as I can tell, it's some crap they put under my skin that let's me, well, not see, but "feel" the world around me... all around me. I have this picture in my head, the whole room, visual and somewhat sensory. I can see smells, see heat, even see fingerprints without dustin'. Makes my job a hell of alot easier. And nobody's been able to sneak up behind me since. They even did some fancy tinkerin' with my brain, basically, as the story goes most people only use 10% or so of their active brain. They were trying to increase that, they even wired some of it up to the sensors, 's why I can get that roundabout picture. But what they ended up doing was wiring me so when I go to sleep, I just switch off one part, and while it winds down, another part wakes up and takes over. No muss, no fuss, 24 hour detective. They can't tell me what it'll do in the longterm, but hell, it makes my job easier.. Anyway, once I got my "sight" back, I got to look at the contract I'd signed... weren't not detective jobs, least nothin' simple. Basically signed my life away as a lifetime investigatore for my "employers." Not really a bad gig, they provide my house, decent pay for food 'n such, alls I gotta do is find this or that out for them, and not get myself killed along the way. I also seem to have given them rights to tinker with my body as they see fit, but seeing as what they've done to me so far, I'm not too concerned. Hell, I wouldn't phase me a bit to discover a few more surprises had been installed. Anyway, I finished recovering from the operation about 3 months ago, and so far the work has been mostly industrial espionage. Find out a design for this, whether company A is gonna by company B. So far I haven't a clue who I'm workin' for, but that doesn't get in the way of the jobs. Anyway, that'd be about enough reminiscing, as I had to keep my schedule and it was about time for me to get some "rest."

Anyway, so yeah, I went through my usual routine of gettin' ready for bed. Even when you don't sleep, it's nice to lie down for a while and think about your day, and since there really aint that much to do 'tween the hours of midnight and mornin' I usually did just that, nothin'. So I layed myself down, and started into what I hoped was a reasonable act of sleepin, lyin there all lose and limp. It was too bad that they'd figured out about the thermal sensors, but I picked up a wide enough range of lightwaves, and a few other wavelengths of various radiations, that it wouldn't make a terrible difference. I'd just have to be more careful about keeping the rest of my secrets. I watched as the assassin crept incredibly slowly from the closet and approached my bad. I figured I'd wait till he, or she to be fair, either made some noise that could potentially awaken me, or leant close enough that i might "notice" them as I rolled in my sleep. But the assassin stopped about two feet from my bed, and just stood there quietly for a few moments. I was about ready to give up and make my move when he suddenly nodded, and I head a murmered voice...

"Dammit, they've built another one..."

And before I could move he was gone, I'm not even sure where. One moment looming, the next an empty room, not even a thermal trail or a trail of odour to show he'd been here... one helluva piece of work whatever he was wearin'. And not a sound of him leaving, and with the upgrades my ears had, more of that brain tweakin', that's pretty impressive. Though that "another one" line got me to worryin'. With the danger clear, I resumed my "nap." Not worth it to establish a fake schedule if ya don't adhere to it for the watchers, y'know?



As you can see, I'm setting up for a SciFi-ish detective story. Yes, he's got some useful powers. But keep in mind, with powers like this, tend to come weaknesses as well. Also notice the obligatory conspiracy (unknown employer), the reference to a darker origin (they've made another), and the implication that the employee trusts nobody ("watchers"). I dunno if I should continue this, I kinda like the character I've got envisioned, and a whole bunch of storyline sorta flopped into my head, but with a readerbase of -1 (I count against it), and no cause to continue, I may just go back to my offline writings. I'll probably start a few more short stories here, in episodes, though if anyone out there wants to donate a journal key number thingy so I can separate the fictional accounts into their own journals, I'd be much obliged. Oh, and if you stumble across this, comment on it, so I know to continue, or to put it down before it scares the children.

Current Mood: left-handed, wtf?
Tuesday, December 9th, 2003
7:43 pm
Chapter 2
Is complete, though I won't be posting it here.
Well, mostly complete. Backbone's fairly solid, but the flesh could use some work.
Sunday, December 7th, 2003
9:20 pm
Small Note:
The underlined text is there for my own reference, as the character names are not final, and I've underlined the first appearance of most of them to ease my work when I reread to change things.
Saturday, December 6th, 2003
7:59 pm
Chapter 1:


         The darkness coalesced behind him, as if trying to drive him
onward. His clothes were permeated with sweat caused by the
oppressive heat of the night, but he still felt chilled to the bone. The
screams still echoed in his mind, but the deeds he had committed
were so gruesome, so unthinkable that thankfully he found himself
unable to recollect more than the vaguest shadows of the memories.
He wiped his hair from his eyes, glancing back, the fingers of his left
hand clutched tightly around the hilt of his sword. He couldn't recall
what had chased him here, but he knew it was something he must
avoid. The castle loomed before him. Atop the ramparts stone
gargoyles loomed outward, their hideous grins implying unmasked
anticipation. The castle itself stood with the drawbridge down, its
portcullis raised, a gaping maw eagerly awaiting its prey. With a
curse the lone warrior turned toward the darkened portal, and with a
resolution borne of the deepest despair steeled himself for whatever
lay ahead.


         Sharp slivers of light pierced Xel's eyelids and the young man
awoke with a start. His hair was tangled in a sweaty mass, and he
knew that it had been no ordinary dream. The detail and clarity of his
memory, the sharp pang of lost companions left little doubt in his
mind. He could still feel the pebbly path grind beneath the heel of his
boot. He somehow knew that the lone warrior was himself, and he
knew that he must warn someone of the approaching darkness.
"But," he thought "who would believe a warning in a dream?"
Especially when presented by a youth who hadn't but last week
reached marriageable age. Having seen his 17th harvest he should
already be promised to one of the local farmers' daughters, but being
an only son he had little time to go to the traditional festivals, and so
wasn't known well around the village. He would have to spend more
time actually in the village this coming year. Xel decided to put the
dream aside. The harvest festival was in a week, and if he wanted to
go there was much work to do first.


         As he strode into the field, he noticed a faint odor on the wind.
Within a moment he recognized it as the rich scent of burning cedar.
The neighbors must be smoking ham in preparation for the winter
months. As he turned to survey the field and decide where to begin,
he noticed the smoke. Dark billowing tendrils seeped out from
between the trees, choking off the sun. As the clearing darkened, he
saw the orange flicker of flames dancing among the trees but before
it could full register he caught a flicker of movement in his peripheral
vision.


         Suddenly his father appeared before him, an unearthly shriek of
pain and terror escaping his lips, and Xel knew instantly where the
fire had originated. Putting the vision behind him, he took off
homeward, the only thought in his mind a desperate hope that he
could return in time to save his father. With a gut wrenching twist Xel
fell to the ground. Upon rising the sky was clear, and the sun
continued its inexorable march through the sky.


         He burst into the farmhouse frantically calling for his father.


         "What is it boy?" came the response, "You're carrying on and
hollering as if the world were ending!"


         "Father, you're safe? I saw the house burning... smoke made it
as far as the west field!"


         A strange expression crossed his face, and Xel's father, Carl
v'liem
descended the stairs to look his son in the face. "Well the
house seems decidedly unburnt, at least from here. And I feel as
healthy as an ox. In fact, haven't caught a whiff of smoke on the wind
either, for that matter boy. You feeling all right son? You may want to
head back to Rainelle's Crossing and see Old Lady Brimsthrip, she
knows more about herbs than most 'round these parts. Maybe she'll
be able to whip up something' to fix ye' up."


         "Thanks father. I'll make up the work tomorrow. Oh, by the way,
can I go to the festival next week? I'll make sure we don't fall behind
in the chores."


         "Sure son. Anyway, be careful on your way to town. I've seen a
wolf or two in the fields lately, and normally they'd have no cause to
hunt so far from where they normally live. Something's not right, and
we can't afford you getting hurt this close to harvest time."


         "Yes father," Xel responded with an exasperated sigh. "Don't
worry, I'll keep a watchful eye as always, and an arrow knocked at all
times." Maybe the vision and the feverish dreams were symptoms of
illness. And maybe the old hag could be helpful for once,
Xel thought,
as he began the long trek to Rainelle's Crossing.


         The road to the village was rocky, barely wide enough for the
carts dragged down it every year when the farmers brought in their
harvests. This day, though, it seems exceptionally narrow, the trees
lining it seeming to loom over the road, as if attempting to banish the
pure pale light of the sun. And unnaturally cool breeze blew down the
sinuously curving path, and Xel almost wished he carried more with
him than his hunting bow and a small number of arrows. Fortunately,
the walk ended without incident. The dirt and rock road led him to
town, as it always had, and although he could have sworn he had
seen the golden glimmer of a wolf's eyes here and there, and despite
the lingering scent of acrid smoke he made it to town safely.


         Rainelle's Crossing was a typical bridge-village. It was small
with a little inn, and about seven houses. There were also a small
smithy, a general store, and a cobbler. Across the river sat several
more squat stone and wooden houses. That is, if you could call the
muddy flow from the mountains a "river." At this point the river was
barely deep enough for anything but a small rowboat, but its width
was still too great to stop it from being an easy forge, and in the past
it has flown with far greater depth and speed. But this new bridge had
changed everything. Formerly there had been a small wooden bridge,
barely suitable for use. But now a massive construction of stone
spanned the river, ensuring that when the waters once more rushed
beneath any and all would be able to cross with a minimum of effort
or risk. It was the grandest thing Xel had seen in his life, from the
carefully cut stone heaved from quarries to the south, to the
intricately patterned rails carefully hand-carved by the mayor's
nephew Giln. Xel wasn't exactly widely traveled, but Xel was sure
that the bridge, which had been the focus of most of the craftsmen in
the village for quite some time, must be one of the most wondrous
things anywhere. Rainelle's Crossing had seen plenty of trade, being
the only place to cross the river for quite some distance either
direction, but sure people would now come simply to witness such a
testament to mankind's ability to conquer nature. Maybe even one
day soon the village would begin growing, for although it was quite
large at nearly two hundred people, Xel had heard tales of grand
cities far away with twice as many.


         Xel rushed to Valine Brimsthrip's house, desperately
attempting to remain inconspicuous. Not only was he of marriageable
age, but he was actually quite handsome (or so the girls told him),
and his father's farm was one of the larger around. Many a farm wife
felt they knew the perfect friend's daughter for him, and he didn't feel
like dealing with would be matchmakers this day.


         Valine Brimsthrip was a wrinkled old woman, quite possibly the
oldest Xel had ever met. For as long as the town had existed, her
family had been the herbalists of the village. When Valine passed
childbearing age, the villagers began attempting to convince her to
pass the secrets to one outside her family. Her only response was a
mysterious smile, and a mumbled "One will come in time." About 15
years back a young child, somewhere around a year old, appeared
on her doorstep. Valine named the girl Alwein, and took her in as if
she were her own daughter. Alwein answered the door.


         "Why hello Xel. What can I do for you today?"


         "If you would be so kind, I would like to speak with your
mother."


         With that a look of pain crossed Alwein's face, and tears leapt
into her eyes. She suddenly embraced Xel, her eyes pouring salty
streams down her red cheeks.


         "She's dead Xel... Three days ago. She's raised me for longer
than I can remember and now she's gone... and the villagers expect
me to fill her shoes... and I just don't know if I can do it. By the
ancient stone, I don't know how I'll get by without her."


         "I'm sorry Alwein. I really didn't know. I've not heard from town
for several months. Is there any way I can help? Any chores I can
do? I've a strong arm, and a sturdy back, and I'm sure most of the
rest of the village would just as readily pitch in. My father can spare
me for a few days, certainly. We all loved your mother, and it would
be the least I could do to give you a hand, and a shoulder to lean on."


         "Thank you Xel. It will be nice to have you around to help. I'm
sorry about the outburst. It's just... well... it all happened so
suddenly!" Fresh tears sprang to Alwein's eyes. "A week ago she
took to her bed, saying she needed rest. We cared for her for four
days, and on the fourth night she left us. She went peacefully, in her
sleep. The last thing she said to me was 'Alwein, I've taught you all I
can. I love you dearly; in everything but blood you are my own
daughter. I would stay if I could, but there is no cure for age, and I've
accumulated plenty of that. Let me rest dear. I fear I won't awaken,
but you must always remember I love you.' With that my mother fell
asleep, never to awaken again on this earth."


         As she finished, Xel returned her embrace, gently telling her
"Don't worry Alwein. She left content, with a loving daughter. That's
how she wanted it. You'll be okay. You mustn't dwell on her passing,
but instead labor to do good as she did. When you meet her again,
you'll be able to show her your life proudly, having spread the love
and caring she showed you to others in need. She loved you greatly,
and would not want you pained by her passing. I'm sorry for rambling.
My visit was unimportant, and I feel like I'm in the way. If you're okay,
I think I'll head to the in. Master Varél will put me up for the night, and
I’ll be here tomorrow to help with the chores.”


         “Thank you so much Xel. It’s been hard with no close friends
around although your friend Meli has been helping. He’ll be by
tomorrow as well. Thank you again.”


         With that, Xel turned and began the short walk to the inn.
Master Varél was a kindly man, and Xel knew that the old innkeeper
would spare him a room. He rarely charged the residents of the town,
making plenty of money off of the frequent travelers crossing the
river. Despite the sour nature of his day, a small smile began to cross
Xel’s face. He would for the first time in years be spending a day with
his childhood friends, even if under such dim circumstances. Why it’s
been at least three years since...


         A shriek pierced the air, breaking off his reminiscing, and
before he could think he was sprinting toward it, bow drawn. Xel
rounded a corner to see a pair of gruff looking men approaching a
young woman who had the misfortune of being stuck in a blind alley.
The men’s beady eyes gleamed cruelly as they eyed the fat purse at
her belt and the gold chain adorning her neck. But Xel knew they
were in for a surprise... He recognized the young woman as
Lauralyn, an itinerant wanderer who occasionally visited the
crossing. “Lau,” as her friends called her had supposedly been raised
by wolves. A supposed “wild woman” she acted placid and ladylike,
but Xel knew that she would have no problem with the brigands. Xel
was mildly curious as to where she had come by the money she
seemed to have, but was more concerned by the fact that there were
such brigands in the normally peaceful village. The merchant’s
guards tended to be a big gruff, but never before had he heard of a
single crime being committed in the crossing.


         “So, how are you doing young Xel?” Xel’s thought was
interrupted by an almost lighthearted, dancing voice. Although
nobody knew how old Lau really was, at most she was his senior by
only two or three years but for as long as he remembered she’s
called him “Young Xel,” as if chiding him for his inexperience in the
outside world. Xel glanced over to the groaning would-be bandits,
now bereft of weapons.


         “You okay Lau? I heard a scream. Shouldn’t we do something
about these two?”


         “Leave them be. I doubt they’ll be stirring up trouble any time
soon. Will you boys?” Groans came from the crumpled men. “Were
you burning brush earlier today? On the way in I thought I smelled
smoke near your farm. Come to think of it, I still smell some on you.”
Lau’s acute sense and observation disquieted Xel, but he wasn’t
quite ready to talk about the day’s events.


         “Yeah, one of the old fields grew over and I was burning off the
weeds. Good for the soil too sometimes. You staying in town, or
moving on?”


         “I think I’ll stay a little. Catch up with you and some other old
friends. The world stirs abroad and I feel the need for a warm hearth
and a bit of the predictable village life.”


         “You’ll be staying at the Inn then?”


         “I may. I may not. We’ll see. First I have a few errands to run.
Perhaps I’ll see you later.” With that and a wink, Lauralyn turned and
left.


         The inn was a short distance away, and he entered to find the
common room more crowded than usual. Not that a crowd was
uncommon here, but as an average a crowd would mean half the
tables were occupied. This night Xel was pressed to spot even one
empty table. Jak, a young boy from the village, entertained guests
with his flute. Once the city had hired a man from the Bard’s Guild to
entertain at the celebration for the opening of the bridge, but even
though Xel had not attended he knew that Jak could not compare.
Still, Xel wished he had some skill with the flute, or the harp, or
silvered tongue of a bard. Nobody ever heard of wandering farmers,
traveling hunters who tracked rabbits to pay their way. Reality
required these skills though, as life on the farm would not be easy if
he couldn’t draw a bow, track game, and remain unseen by his prey.
Fresh meat was rarely a shortage in his life, and that was better than
could be said for some.


         Bertin Varél was a jolly man. He could politely be described as
“portly,” but despite his appearance he was not slovenly. He had
never been seen without a smile on his face, and had never turned
down a friend in need. His inn was full to the rafters with guests, but
Master Varél always kept a small cot in the loft in the stables for just
such an emergency. He lent it to Xel and immediately offered a warm
meal, which Xel accepted humbly, promising to pay when he could
fetch some money from his home. Xel shortly retired, knowing he
would be rising early the next morn.




         He stood in darkness. Around him was an emptiness so
complete that his own presence came into question. He searched his
mind, seeking a sense of identity but found nothing. Alone he stood,
unnamed, an embodiment of pure thought and emotion, simply
waiting. Around him, six spheres appeared. Perhaps not appeared,
they simply became, merging with the emptiness seamlessly so that
if one looked into any sphere he felt as if he became the sphere,
merged both with it and yet still isolated. Without turning the figure
oriented, facing a white sphere. He did not move yet neither did the
sphere. He simply was, facing a white sphere. Toward and to his left
was a blue sphere, rippling softly like the surface of a lake.
Continuing counterclockwise was a gray-brown sphere, jagged, flat in
some place, as if hewn from stone by indelicate tools. To the right of
the white sphere was an emptiness. As the man watched he felt he
could sense a faint movement and he knew at once that although he
could not see it, before him was a sphere of turbulent air. Further
clockwise was a sphere glowing with heat. The red sphere of flame
flickered and spit as it floated in the emptiness. The man recognized
four of the spheres, drawing memory from unknown and inaccessible
wells of knowledge the fact that the spheres represented the four
elements which comprised the fundamental essence of all. He also
knew what the white sphere was, the piercing, pure glow of good
floated directly in front of him. Orienting the opposite direction he saw
nothing. Not the emptiness around him, but rather a sense of lacking,
a hole in nature as if something were missing. He turned his back
away from the sphere of evil, indifferent himself to the concept of
motive. With the clarity that occasionally accompanies insight the
man realized that he must be standing within the sphere of neutrality.
Finding that he could not walk, nor will himself elsewhere as he had
done to turn, he took his remaining option and randomly reached
toward the sphere of water.


         Water surrounded him, filled him. He felt currents flow and ebb
with his thoughts. Before him still were the spheres, water replaced
instead with a void like that he had just left. It looked not like the
gaping lack of evil, but more as if it just simply existed, no need for
reason. Reaching again he became earth, immutable. His mind was
set in stone. Things must not change, not flow onwards chaotically as
they had under the influence of water. Willing his arm forward he
overcame the stone and flickered into flame. Energy filled him, the
desire to spread, to dance across the world consuming and bringing
rebirth. Onward to wind he proceeded. His body became the dancing
currents of the breeze, as frivolous thoughts filled his mind. He could
feel himself brush across the treetops, through the leaves. Why leave
this kind of joy? With reluctance he returned to the void of neutrality,
the balance. He looked at the light and dark spheres with
apprehension, knowing that simple exploration was not a choice
here. Touching either would be a commitment, a dedication of his
being to the purpose of a will within.


         Realization flooded him as he sensed the relation of the
spheres. Fire was the inner heat of being, the hunger of life. Water
was the flowing blood in his veins. Earth was the flesh of his body,
and air was the breath of his soul. The void he was within was pure
thought. This was not empty but instead so infinitely vast that it
contained all. And he knew what the other two spheres were. The
white luminescence was self sacrifice, the will to do good no matter
the cost to the self. The inwardly focused sphere, for that is what it
was, drawing the light instead of throwing forth light to the others,
was desire. The will to do things for the self. Within lay greed, riches
untold at the cost of others. Understanding the nature of this realm he
knew neither black nor white held his path. Without looking he
reached upwards toward the unseeable sphere. The sphere of
choice.




         Xel awoke, clearing the fog from his head with a series of
blinks. He could remember when he lay down on the cot, but knew he
was not now in it. He could not remember where he was, and had no
inkling as to how he might have arrived there. Looking around the
room he recognized it as Alwein’s guest room. Curious as to how he
arrived, Xel slowly began to lift himself from the bed. Red flashed
before his eyes as his head split with pain. Xel fell back upon the
pillow.




         He was in the emptiness again. He still could not remember
who he was, nor could he remember being here before. He just knew
he had before visited, and knew he would return again. Although he
did not know they had been there before, the spheres were gone.
Before him stood a table, although the word table did not exist to him,
he knew the feel of it. On it lay a simple long sword, reflecting some
unseen light off its mirrorlike blade. It was a simple weapon. The hilt
was solid, wrapped in leather to comfort the hand. The blade was
honed to an edge so thin as to seem capable of splitting the finest
hair. To the left of the sword lay a book. The black velvet cover had
upon it a single symbol, an ornate spidery shape etched in gleaming
silver. The book held an aura of sinister purpose mingled with
immense power. To the right of the sword rested a farmer’s hoe,
simplistic and pure. It seemed to draw him, offering the simple
pleasures of the land, and a job well done. Resisting the urge, the
man considered what lay before him, and knew a choice was
required. He also knew it was not his first, nor his last, he knew
without memory that in both directions lay choices, one made, and
one yet unmade. He also felt a surety that this choice was not as it
seemed. Reaching into the bag he knew hung from his waist, he
drew out the horn he had determined would be in it. Raising it to his
lips, he denied the other objects, those which would set his life to
their destinies. Drawing unfelt air into lungs which did not exist, the
man let forth a blast of sound, a challenge thrown in the face of
destiny, for the horn was of himself, and so he chose no path but that
of his own.




         Xel awoke a second time, brief memories of darkness
scattering as the room came into focus. This time he did not attempt
to rise, but instead waited for Alwein to arrive. He knew that he must
be ill if that had moved him from the inn, and with her mother’s
training Alwein would not leave him untended for long. As he waited,
a feeling entered him. No words could describe it. He felt as if he
were being removed, dissociated with reality, yet focused into an
essence of being. Xel felt himself isolated, yet simultaneously one
with everything in the room. With his sudden burst of feeling the
weakened Xel was again overcome and darkness once more filled
his vision.




         The man stood in the emptiness awaiting his last trial, his final
choice. He remembered nothing, not knowing why it was his last. It
simply was. The void around him contained no table, no spheres, but
the man did not know of their absence. Before him stood the beautiful
Alwein, dressed in the simple clothes of a village herbalist. She
offered him life in the village, marriage to a beautiful and loving
woman, a family, and a simple ideal life. To the left of Alwein stood
Lauralyn, dressed in leather traveling clothes. She offered a life of
adventure, a tale that would be told by bards for ages. Riches,
adventure, and an exciting life. On the right of Alwein awaited another
woman, one he had not yet met although he did not know he had met
the other two. She was a noblewoman, as could be seen by the way
she bore herself, if not from the fine clothing she wore. The man
knew that with her lead the path to wealth and power, a title, and the
guaranteeing of prosperity for his family yet to come. He did not know
which choice was right for him. For a moment, he stood, unable to
make a decision. Then, with the clarity one has immediately after
waking from a dream, the insight that is lost only moments later, he
reached outward, his choice made.




                  Xel saw only Alwein before him, a nearly hidden grin on
her lips and a scolding glint in her eyes. It took a few seconds for him
to realize he had awoken. “Xel, that’s not like you to leave me on my
own so that you might take a few days’ bed rest.” Wit that her face
burst into a smile of relief, and she roughly embraced him, tears
spilling from her eyes. “Xel, I thought I’d lost you. I was so worried.
When nothing I did seemed to help, I feared you’d never return!” she
sobbed.


         “Well I’m better now. You said I was out for days? Don’t worry,
I’m quite sure I’m better now, but do you have any idea what I might
have been suffering from?”


         “Well you had no fever, nor any sign of an ailment I could
recognize. Had I not know better, I would’ve said simple exhaustion,
but I found it impossible to awaken you at all, and you’ve never been
one to overwork yourself.”


         “Well, I thank you Alweih. Now that I’ve recovered, I’ll handle
those chores we discussed, so I can get back to the farm.” With his
words a flutter of chagrin crossed Alwein’s face, but was replaced
with a forced wan smile and a nod. “Of course you’ll need to rest a
little first. Couldn’t have you collapse again, could we? Besides Meli’s
been helping out quite a bit.”


         “I’ll be fine Alwein. I don’t know what happened to me, but
whatever you tried in helping me has left me feeling as strong as an
ox. I’ll have this place fixed up in a day, and all the firewood you
could need split in half as long. I’ll be ready to return home tomorrow
evening, and there’s no point in trying to stop me. I’ll not be causing
you any more bother.”


         “Oh nonsense! You’re no bother! And you can’t go back to your
farm... I’d hoped to spare you the pain for a little longer, but it seems I
must tell you now. While you were unconscious... a band of sorcerers
invaded from Alludria. They used dark magic and many of the
outlying farms were burnt to the ground...”


         “My father?”


         “Is not dead. Astonishingly enough, none are. Despite the
destruction, very few were even injured, though they’ve kidnaped
several of the men. For the first time sine the War of the Flame the
sorcerers have crossed their borders and committed foul acts. No
Xel, I fear you cannot return home. Your father’s gone, and unless
you’re secretly a swordsmaster there’s not much you can do about it.”




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