The Epistolary Character

There is something curious about the art of letter writing. A letter is not quite a tall tale, as its contents are as real as ink can ever get, yet neither is it an essay, for it tells its own sort of story, and not merely another’s. A letter is neither a missive though one might take it for that by the definition in the thesaurus. A missive seeks only to relay a message, which, though a letter does as well, it does so incidental to its prime purpose (or as I see it – feel free to disagree, and I’ll put on my best hat and tie to answer the argument.)

A letter is an accidental autobiography. It is not quite a testimony as one might give in court, and it certainly isn’t a memoir (I’ve long thought that word rank with self-absorption), yet the story is very much your own – but also someone else’s. In the case of the now ubiquitous and somewhat oxymoronic ‘open-letter’ that can be the story of a great many individuals. I stretch my definition here, as I have always believed a letter in its truest nature is always a private affair, meaningful only to those whom it concerns.

A letter is the story not only of its author, but also of its recipient. In how someone conducts themselves in a letter, you see not only the paths of their logic and feelings, but also of their perceptions of their partner. In the lines of a letter you can see a cerebral and calculating mind at once madly in love with the subject of his affections, or a passionate spirit cooled by heartbreak and loneliness, or the supreme disconnection of one so consumed with the craft of his message that he has left out its heart, and quite accidentally put something else in its place.

The heart of a letter is a hard thing to nail down, much like a certain physicist’s cat – yet when it is found, the soul of a thoughtfully written letter is so much more evocative and descriptive of a relationship than any number of adjectives and prose. And while you might put this to use in your own letters (though in this digital age we are rarely given to such extravagances as personalized, emotive communication), my concern with this subject is in fiction.

You have your brilliant band of misfits for your novel, whether it be an adventure through the forests of Moravia or a harrowing journey to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or just an exceptionally interesting walk to the Circle-K (though this article is written with the longer form and epic scale in mind, you may have opportunity to apply it to the short and mundane as well). You have written out their relationships, you know how the little rascals should behave towards one another, think of one another, treat one another – and yet something doesn’t click. You struggle, as I have, to make the changes in their relationship seem realistic. You find it difficult to engineer the situations which lead to them demonstrating their feelings so that you don’t have to narrate them.

Write a letter between them. Take on the eyes and pen of one of your characters, and compose their thoughts to the other. There are few means more intimate of seeing your story’s world through your character’s eyes – and seeing your other characters. It is as close one can step into a relationship without being in one (or stalking them in the night, which I do not advise.) Even without integrating it into your finished work, this is a useful exercise for character development, particularly when it would seem odd to conduct an interview – while it may be quite easy to interview your average young hero or heroine, brimming with optimism and good-will, it’s quite the challenge to interview a power-hungry, kinslaying baroness without seeing her personality entirely out of its natural environment.

The mechanism of the letter, delivered and undelivered, can be a powerful way to speak your character’s thoughts aloud – but itself can be taken for just another form of thought-narration, if presented merely as the character is writing them. Recall that letters are not the story of the individual alone, but of the relationship between individuals. If you intend to use the epistle within your story, it must be presented through the eyes of its recipient (intended or not! A third party reading a letter meant for another is an ancient plot device as old as intrigue.) If you present a letter as seen by its writer, it is no different than a diary entry – which can be precisely what you intend. Diaries, although not covered here, can fill a similar function when presented as read by another character in the story – advancing and changing a relationship through the revelation of intimate secrets. Interviews can again do the same, though the value there is less in what is said and more in what is not said. Both worthy subjects for a further treatise.

To summarize, the letter is an ancient form, and not merely one reserved for the practical conveyance of information. The Apostles great letters contain not only the explicit wisdom of the Holy Spirit speaking through them, nor merely a historical record of the churches then, but a priceless look at how the leaders of the early church felt towards and cared for the congregations under their care, and how those congregations responded. The letters of leaders both great and terrible speak volumes to their official and their personal relations – Hitler the Fuhrer is very different from Hitler the Starving Artist. In just the same way, your characters will conduct themselves very differently in public and in private, in the spoken word and in the written word, and in that difference you can capture the essence of how that individual views himself and everyone else.

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Why is it that Naps Never Work?

I dunno, I’m not a neurologist. 😐

But I do know that if you lay down for a thirty minute nap, you will always wake up feeling totally unsatisfied and regretful of all your time spent lying face down half-naked with your butt in the air, dreaming of bold and cheesy Dorito warriors doing battle with soulless original flavor Lays chips in an eternal war of salty doom, ending only in obesity and heart failure for all third parties caught in the middle.

Perhaps Colonel Frito and the Rufflenecks will come crashing in on their flaming drop-bags to save the day.

Or we’ll all be eaten alive by Bugs.

D&D: Le Tome of Bread

So, the post previous to this one was quite strange, out of the blue, and possibly surreal (your mileage may vary.) Regardless, I felt that providing context would be at the very least amusing, until such a time as God strikes me again with great spiritual motion to write something else significant.

So, Pierre is an NPC from my most recent Dungeons and Dragons campaign, hosted with a group of new friends from my also new church here in Tampa. They were all new to the game, while I have several years of experience in writing and designing not only my own campaigns, but my own balanced rule-sets to incorporate mechanics I could not find in any amount of rule supplements (nor did I have the inclination to spend money on them). They needed a Dungeon Master, and I thought it would be a fun way to spend a weekend (not knowing I would also get dinner and enough Dr. Pepper to drown in).

So, there they were on a halfling caravan, adventurers from far-off lands various: Erik Withakay, an alcoholic palace guard from the mountain kingdoms of Nowhertall, who put in a two week notice and left to see the plains below the mountain peaks; Elle Many-Daggers, the gnome grad student turned chipper, socially-awkward thief; and Volos, the unwanted scion of King Haddock of the Tritons, on a journey to find meaning in life, and acridly criticize everything along the way. Arriving in the little village of Lapplaken, which was the only habitation across the wide Lapplake swamp, they quickly discovered that this pit-stop was not only going to be extended by the oncoming flood rains making land-bound traveling an impossibility, but this pit-stop was to be in the hodunkest of hodunk towns. The nominally elven sheriff and his deputies probably had a combined alphabet of maybe three vowels and six consonants, and the intellectual level of the majority of the town’s public figures was comparable to a concussed sea slug. Depressed by their rude surroundings, Withakay quickly fell prey to mushroom rum, began quoting some unknown troubadour group called Verdant Day, and passed out over the bar. Elle was able to hold her liquor well enough to be mentally present for a harried young woman looking for the help of altruistic adventurers, and Volos was able to restrain his inner critic long enough to agree to help the single mother find her lost son without laying into her on her poor parenting skills.

Now a lot happened in between; they grilled the Three Bobs for information, and deduced that Short Bob was an idiot, Tall Bob was even more so, and Weird Bob was either the only smart man in the entire village, so stupid he was approaching intelligence from the other side, or just an imbecilic vampire.

There was a gnome archaeologist named Avelldon who was related to their quest, to find a missing boy who was lost in the swamps (which were also filled with ancient and mysterious ruins, because the people of Lapplaken were just full of great ideas when they settled their little village on top of the drowned ruins of an eons old undersea city of the dormant empire of dimension-swimming snake people. Good call Sheriff Rourke).

Avelldon was to be a collector of magical knickknacks and this-or-that’s, who could be pressured or persuaded to help the party by giving them enchanted gear and spell scrolls to help even the odds against their vastly more numerous and more powerful enemies (since they only had level 1 gear and were up against CR 8 monsters). One of these items was a magical talking book who could conjure bread at will, named The Tome of Bread. I thought this would be an amusing way to help the party not worry about the logistics of feeding themselves while still instilling in them the importance of packing sufficient rations for when they graduated to a more hardcore adventure.

So their first meeting with the Tome of Bread was on the trek to Avelldon’s house, after being subtly prompted by the frankly abysmal intellect of the average Lapplaken villager that he was probably their best bet to get any remotely useful intelligence. Upon walking up to the house, they were greeted by what sounded like a boisterous Frenchman shouting, “LE BAGUETTE!” repeatedly.

Moments later, a leather bound book appeared in the window, opened its pages, and with a LE BAGUETTE to ring down the ages, bombarded them with a hail of fresh baked baguettes.

To be continued in Part 2…

 

Strong Characters Aren’t Always Strong

I hear a lot of talk in writers’ circles about ‘showing and not telling’, ‘finding your voice,’ and ‘strong characters.’ While all of these are worthy topics – and really, there’s many more subjects under the writing craft that has devolved into similar platitudes which have need of a concise but clear and tutelary exposition. But here, today, I’m going to write about ‘strong characters’, and the common misunderstandings of that phrase’s meaning.

In my own writing, I’ve received my fair share of compliments and criticisms. Sometimes my ornate, antiquated style is met with praise, and occasionally with exasperation at its turbidity. It has its flaws and its merits. Another, more relevant note I see often is on my ‘strong female character(s),’ or their ‘dark vitality.’

And I have to wonder whether these commentators (who are overwhelmingly female) are complimenting me on presenting a realistic, personable human individual, or because I made a woman character who doesn’t really act much like a woman.

The character in question is Countess Kyreleis von Gottschalk, a wicked, ruthless border lord; among her aliases are the Lady of Snakes, Maiden Tyrant, and Dragon of the North. She is a formidable military mind, a skilled rhetorician, and at heart, a deeply troubled soul. For all of her cynicism and her well-worded wisdom, she is painfully aware of her wickedness, and her spiritual struggle between her inner yearning for righteousness and her natural tendency towards villainy is the focus of my novel, Rest for the Wicked.

Now, why is she strong? Is she strong because she doesn’t take any lip from anyone? Is she strong because she’s proud to the point of sin, and relentless in pursuit of her goals? Is she seen as a strong woman because, at least in the works so far, I have not presented her as thinking about men and relationships?

In short, is she seen as strong because she is heavily masculinized? (which indeed she is) If so, these well-meaning compliments sadden me (though only mildly – great sadness must be reserved for great sorrows). When did aggression, authority and greed become equated with a strong character (literarily speaking)?

Perhaps they consider her strong because she possesses many traits of the archetypical ‘Big Bad Evil Guy’ whose persona dominates modern fantasy and science-fiction. She is charismatic, born into power but clearly proactive in expanding that power. She is irreverent (on the face at least) of divine authority, above common morality, and thoughtful enough to need to justify her depraved actions to herself.

I count myself fortunate to have never known a woman like Kyreleis. The lady in my life is kind, and gentle, funny, God-loving, servant-like, and self-sacrificing. She is humble, honest with herself and with others, calling me out of my sin as I call her out of hers. She is devoted and loyal – not to power, but to the God who saved us both. She has an inner strength far greater than Kyreleis’, who though she commands legions of men and lays waste to swathes of countryside, is wracked by weakness, guilt, an inner-emptiness that cannot be filled by any amount of pleasure, or glory, or intellectual ponderance.

A strong character can be many things, depending on the context – being in flesh, or in ink. Ultimately, in the realm of ink, a strong character is one who is as compelling in her weaknesses as inspiring in her strengths.

Keramidian

A land without rain, a kingdom built where the sea drained away, its capitol sitting upon the docks of a bone-dry port, a palace built from a warehouse of the giants who were struck from the Earth by the might of the Destroyer.

Its farms grow green-gray, basted by glassy dust and watered with the condensate of the Fissures – moisture traps which capture the steam rising from the underground aquifers underneath the Keramidian, boiled by the interminable sun which is interrupted only by the Storm Plagues.

Coming from the east, from deep within the Glasslands, the rainless clouds bring hails of blade-sand and lightning, burning away the brittle land into glass, foot by foot, and mile by mile.

A kingdom which once covered a thousand miles from the Salt Barrens to the Whistling Wall of the Eastern Keramidian has now shriveled to three hundred miles, its borders marked by the Stelae, the copper lightning rods which hold back the Plague of Storms. Yet in spite of the gold and men thrown at these fragile devices of sorcery and science, the Glasslands grow ever wider, and more crops fail every year as the sun strips the life from the waterless soil. In these bleak times of sun, sorrow, and shadow, who shall deliver Keramidia?

Who shall deliver us?

Letters to my Son: Letter 3

Dear Son,

I write to you again because I love you. You already know this, I hope, yet I can’t help but remind you. It is truly a gift of God, that I can love you as this, not even knowing whose nose you’ll have, whether you’ll have my wide, flat feet or your mother’s beautiful ankles, or my family’s weird tooth gap or her side’s perfect teeth. I can love you because you are my son, infinitely precious in the eyes of the God who breathed new life to my rotting bones and restored them from their decay.

Hard times come upon us all the time. It is rare the season of life that is without trouble. My prayer is that God will bless you and I and your mother, that your childhood at least should be happy and innocent. But I know that when you become a man yourself, you too will have to shoulder the burdens of life, and this fallen world being as it is, you are likely to have to bear that yoke earlier rather than later.

Sometimes those hard times may not even be ‘that bad.’ There are people starving in Africa, after all. Terror in Afghanistan, Siege in Syria, Oppression in China, Spiritual Desolation in Japan, Nuclear Threat from North Korea, Cartels in Colombia – suffering abounds wherever you look. Here in America, we have it as easy as anyone ever has. We have so much food that our number one disease is over-eating. Everyone who has somewhere to live has a phone, electricity, TV or Netflix (TV may not exist by the time you’re born), and likely at least one personal computer in the house.

And with as much as we have materially, we have a poverty of the spirit. Our neighbors often as not know nothing of God, and live their lives as though all there were to it was their paycheck and their bills, the concrete all about and the toys they distract their aching hearts with in the few hours of free time they have. Though we’re well kept, we live as slaves to our toil. We may not have a Pharaoh and his taskmasters to whip us, but nowadays we’re more than capable of doing the job ourselves. We’ll lash ourselves into a frenzy to get the newest gadgets, shame ourselves into toiling the long hours for the approval of others, and crush our hopes until we can push through our labors with dull, glassy eyes.

And yet my son, the answer is not to run away. Sin has covered the world all the same, that all men and women live unfree, born to toil with the sweat of their brow. The freedom the world promises you will leave you broken, enslaved to chasing the next pleasure and grinding down your bones for grist to buy a precious second of fleeting amusement.

The answer is to find the right master. The master of the Earth will take everything away from you, whether you saw that in the contract or not. But the Master of the Heavens, the Lord of the Universe, the One Who Is – there is nothing you can give Him that He does not own. He will never ask of you more than you can give, for everything you have He gave to you first.

My son, your work here on Earth is not for a paycheck. It is not to feed yourself. It is not for joy, for glory, for achievement nor pride nor satisfaction of a basic sense of manliness. I have worked for all these reasons, and I have seen how hollow they become when the going gets tough.

The only reason that can keep you satisfied as you sweat your life into the dust is the Promise. The Promise that when this transient life is through, all that which the World promised but could never fulfill will be given to us in its most perfect and holy, original and just form. The Promise that though this life is filled with strife and aching labor, the life which God promises is one where we shall never sleep, because our rest will be in the Lord. We will never need eat, for God shall satisfy our hunger. We will never lust, for God’s love will be enough. There across that far sea, there shall be no need of tears, for in the final days, God Himself shall descend to us as Christ come again to wipe away our tears.

We labor because God has placed us in labor to reach those whom He desires be saved. And before you worry about being worthy of fulfilling God’s purpose – trust in Him. He made you, and He knows you. And if it seems that you cannot do what He asks you to do – have faith. Pray. Our God does not make mistakes. Your seeming failure now may become later the seeds of faith in another, or shall be the cement which strengthens your faith in His Providence.

He is God, the Three in One and One and Only. To know His Will, read His Word, heed its wisdom, and obey His commands.

I love you, my Son.

Love,

Dad

Letter to My Son: Letter II

Dear Beloved Son,

Father’s Day was yesterday, and quite by accident, I happened to write a letter to you on that day. The coincidence amused me as I went to bed a few hours ago, and now I’m awake again, and I have another letter to write to you.

I thought I’d remind you that I love you. I want to admonish you to remember that, even when it seems to you like I don’t. I want to tell you that when you are thinking this, tell me. The case should never be that I don’t love you – I don’t know how it can ever be true. I love you, even now, when I have not yet beheld your face, nor even placed the ring on the finger of your mother.

When it seems as if my face is turned away from you, it is not because my love has dried up. It is because I am an imperfect father, and like my father before me, I’m not always good at showing my love. I know this will be the case even if I do become worthy of being called your father and your mother’s husband.

I want to warn you son, that we all go through rough times. Even now, the woman whom I think will be your mother is in Japan, having just survived an earthquake, with an even worse one waiting to happen. She is now asleep, trusting in the Lord to keep her safe – and her worry is not for her safety, but for social isolation from her missionary team.

Loneliness can kill you son. Even if you’re like me, and you shun human company, preferring to immerse yourself in your own thoughts and musings, the loneliness will gnaw away at the fabric of your being until there’s nothing left but bone. Irregardless of our inclinations, God did not make us to be alone. He made us to have a partner, He made us to assemble before Him, and He made us to be with Him in the garden, until we turned our faces away from Him who loved us.

You will meet people you don’t like. You may end up like me and mostly meet people that, though probably nice as can be, you don’t want to give the time of day to spend with. The thing to remember is not your standards, what you want, your desires, what you need, but what they need. It is those who seem to have it the most together who are often dying on the inside, stricken by loneliness, besieged by sin, suffering under spiritual assault, or languishing in the thirst of their soul in a barren world.

The secret to being content in your friends is not necessarily to find the ones whose interests and hobbies you share, for while those friends may be amusing to distract yourself with, if you have nothing deeper in common you will be ever thirsty for something that you can’t name.

The secret to friendship is to love your friend more than yourself. To give up your time and your affections for another person without demanding likewise in return is to imitate Christ, the Christ to whom I pledge my life, the Christ who laid down His life for we who killed him, the Christ who came to preach forgiveness to sinful Man, knowing that we would ridicule Him for it.

Do not merely treat others as you would treat yourself. Serve others with your heart and soul, and you will find that not only are they happy, your own cup of joy shall overflow, welling up into a spring of eternal life, if you do this in the name of Christ.

You are not alone, my son. For if one part of the body of Christ suffers, so do we all. If one cries, all mourn. If one laughs, all cheer with her, and if one prays, so all shall we join in, being of one Spirit and one Brother and one Father. I have more to say on this, so I’ll write again soon, but know this:

I love you. Your mother loves you. And most importantly,

God loves you. To the stars and planets and seas and animals He spoke and they came into being, but for you, He took clay and molded you in His hands, in His image, and gave you His own breath of life. He did not merely command of you to be – He made you with care and love, before even the foundation of the world.

Love,

Dad

Letters to my Son: Letter I

Dear Son,

Son, I’m writing this to you because I love you. I don’t know you yet, but I hope that when we meet, I will be a man you can happily call Dad.

But until we meet, there’s a lot that I have to do. I’m not your father yet. I’m a rotten man, a hypocrite, a rebel and a stubborn goat who will hear the truth preached to him all the day long and still not heed the words of wisdom. I’m unworthy in every way to be your father, and it frightens me that I might never become that man.

Or it would, if I did not have a better Father of my own. He’s not the man whose funny crooked teeth or thick hair I inherited, but He has been as much of and far more of a father than the one who conceived me.

To point, I want to be a good father to you. My father provided for me, but there’s quite a few lessons and points of guidance which he never gave to me, but which God graciously provided to me by His providence when I needed it, and even now He continues to lead me for His namesake – and I fully expect that when I see you, He will still be guiding us, me and you both. He is your Father too, and He knows you better than I ever will, for He made you with His hands, and breathed life into you in your mother’s womb.

I’m a writer, my son. That means that when God gives me good thoughts and words, I write them down. Right now, in my youth, it doesn’t seem like there’s much else that I’m good for, so it’s what I do whenever I’m not earning my wages. And that is one of the tough truths that we have to wrestle with under God. There are things we want to do, things we would want to spend all our days doing nothing but, and yet we cannot. Writing is not profitable. It is risky even to try to make a subsistence living as a writer, because unlike a standard 9 to 5 job, there’s no benefits package and no overtime pay. You live off of royalties, advances, and ad-revenue, depending on what you write. You have to practice for years just to get into the craft, and then once you’re in, you can never stop practicing.

And right now son, I’m afraid. I’m ashamed. I’m not brave enough to risk it all to get my dream career. I’m afraid of shaming myself in the eyes of those who love me by forsaking conventional labors for my writing. I’m afraid that I am just indulging laziness by wishing for this. I’m afraid that I would be acting in pride to gratify the desires of my flesh, and forsaking the God who has delivered me from my sins many and myriad. I’m ashamed already at the ungodly desires of my heart, the unrighteous intentions of my flesh, of my weakness in entertaining these traitorous thoughts.

Son, there will be a great many people in your life who will tell you to ‘pursue your dreams.’ They will tell you life is an open book, that the possibilities are limitless, that the world is your oyster.

They are lying to you. The world is not an oyster, it is a barren field. There is much possibility in it, but to extract from the bitter soil your dreams will require of you undying toil, remarkable luck, and toil again until your very bones wear out. To fulfill all your earthly desires by your own hands will consume you like a flame until you come to the end of your road and wonder what you gave up your life for.

Do not desire the things of this world. Even good and glorious things like fame, like doing something you love for a living, these things should not be your heart’s desire. Your desire must be in the Lord, or you will die unsatisfied. I know, because I chased these things and even baser desires for too long in my life, ignoring the appeals God made so gently upon my heart.

Please, my Son – do not be like me. I am not proud of my writing. I am good at it, and I know I was unarguably better at it than many of my peers in school. And there is some joy when I write well, a finely put together sentence, a good day which brought forth more words than usual. And if you become a writer like me, my son, by no means do I discourage you.

But if you are a writer, I want you to do one of two things. If you want to write because you want your name on book covers, because you enjoy it, because you’re good at it – don’t quit your day job. Secure your living first, and indulge your passion when the sun sets. Please, think hard before you give your life to art.

Did I say two things?

My son, no matter how much I want to give you that dream, of being able to do nothing but write for a living – I can’t offer it to you now. I don’t have that dream. I wonder if I even have the self-discipline to manage it if I wasn’t so hemmed in by shame.

God loves you. And if God wills it, it will happen. But when you pray to our Father, you cannot have doubt. You must know what you want, want it truly, want it for the right reasons (read: the glory of God’s Kingdom, the salvation of the unredeemed, and the deliverance of His people), and be faithful that God can do all things.

The Lord knows no doubt. He knows no fear, none of the vacillation that you see in this letter. He is not afraid of being shamed, He is not afraid for His reputation or his 401K or His marriage prospects. He is our bold and fearless King, who humbles all the wicked and proud of this world and heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and shelters the weary. It is our good and gracious God who liberated me from the lusts which consumed my whole being, our kind and merciful God who spared my grandparents from rapacious invaders and conveyed them safely to America, our holy and generous God who gave to me the woman who will be your mother, blessing me a million times in excess of that which I deserve – including by giving me you to rear and teach.

All the gifts you will enjoy, from your food, to your shelter, to your parents (hi there) to the nature present as it may be, to every single talent and ability of your body and mind – all these come from God, and they are purposed for His glory – that all should hear His Word, call upon His name, and be rescued from their evil. As our God smites the wicked so He also redeems them, saving awful sinners like me, who did only evil in His sight with no regard for good.

Our God – and I hope your God – is a delightful savior, who makes my heart sing with joy as I write this very line. For I know that a day will come when these worries will trouble me no more, when I will finally find rest when all I have known is toil. I love my God because He is good, because He first loved me when I was unlovable, and never expected a single thing in return but that I would believe in Him and look to Him as Father. And even these things are gifts from Him, to be given back to Him with loving shouts of praise.

I love you, son. I will write to you again soon. Please take to heart all that I have said, and treasure the wisdom I struggle to pass on to you.

May the peace of God be with you, offspring of mine.

Sincerely,

Dad.

Le Tome of Bread – Le Origine

Pierre, Le Tome of Bread – the First Bake

Foreword: this story is best read aloud in an exaggerated French accent. It just is.

Pierre wasn’t, and then he was. In the musty darkness of the bakery, Pierre knew nothing, though he held many words within his pages. And then, suddenly, he knew – not quite everything – but he knew a lot more then he did before.
Mostly about bread.
But the precise origins of how Pierre came to be are not a subject for a storyteller such as I – that is a topic for a wizard, or perhaps a bookbinder to tackle. I can only speak of Pierre’s deeds, not his birth.
But I know that when Pierre came to be, he was in a bit of a shock for a while.
He was rather passive with his fate. First the baker who owned him was baffled, then terrified, and quickly accused his wife of being a witch, which was not quite true, but suffice it to say, having exposed her identity on accident, he was not bound long for this world. So Pierre changed hands after being left on the shelf of a friend’s house the day before his bakeshop home exploded in a ball of green fire, and demons rampaged through the city for several weeks as the now-moderately-infamous lich Naghali of Borkindor summoned moving demons to help relocate her lair from the sewers of the sleepy small town to a more scenic location in a cliff city perched over the Bottomless Pit of Pitiness. There was some confusion in the whole affair, and while no one was seriously hurt (except for Naghali’s unwitting husband, who was incidentally evaporated in her transformation except for his head which is even now kept in a jar), there was considerable confusion and mistaken property destruction due to unclear instructions to the demons on where exactly she wanted the black dragon yearlings kenneled.

In that time Pierre thought much about the contents of his pages, wondering what meaning these numbers and proportions had and these descriptions of sights, smells and tastes which before he never had known (not having a nose, or eyes, or tongue was something of an impediment to the newborn book.)
Until one day he was left on the counter while his new owner baked a loaf of bread to celebrate the defeat of the demonic invasion – and as he read out the recipe in Pierre’s pages, that old, leather bound book finally understood his purpose, and cried out in revelation, “No monsieur! That recipe is TERRIBLE! Use the one with the almonds! I promise you, you shall live forever!”
Unfortunately, his owner thought the demons were returning in book form, clutched his chest in agony, and died on the spot of a massive heart attack.
After a brief investigation by the city watch, during which Pierre continually cried out for someone to open his pages and finish the bread, the house was declared haunted, condemned, and scheduled for demolition. Just as the priest was blessing the demolition crews to enter the house and smash it down with hammers, an alchemist by the name of Gormiron, who had lost his house in the Great Moving Siege, ran in the door, sat in the hall, and declared he had squatting rights.
Frankly glad to be rid of the accident-prone alchemist (more on his reputation later), the city did not object, and Gormiron was given possession of the ‘haunted’ house. However, even now having a house with literally zero rent, Gormiron still struggled with a truly astronomical debt from his numerous failed experiments, and it seemed like they would throw him in the can, when he discovered he was not the only tenant of this dilapidated, moldy city cottage….

 

Would You Look At That

In the space of less than an hour, eight people liked a single post.

That’s the most I ever had.

And I thought it was a trash post.

Nothing earthshattering here (yet, anyways.)

Well, I don’t want this post to be entirely vestigial, (though I’m burning with scientific curiosity to figure out what gets the views and why) so I guess I’ll make it about something not so great and holy and mysterious as the Lord, since He has not yet struck me with words today.

But that will have to be in the next post, so as not to contaminate it with the inanity of this one.