Archives for the month of: December, 2014

…He was aware that here and there, in Zereb or Silbo, in this or that tower, things had been said that seemed to open up new horizons on the Shion – and much of Zy’s thought concerned the Shion – and contributed to creating the hazy outline of a life.

It was this life that Zy worked over, his mind running backwards and forwards, but endlessly slipping, like a beetle in a bowl, not ever quite managing to get outside the object and to arrive at a clear view of its structure. And that was what Zy wanted to do: to build a house of thought, a place that was fine and translucent, and stable, which didn’t keep melting and flowing away all the time, a sanctuary to which he could bring his ideas and place them in store, so that they would remain there intact, enabling him to go back to them when he wanted, and find his ideas unchanged, the information locked in order and sound.

The letters, for instance: he had wanted to know about the letters…


…’The government has no interest in us, they say. It is not like the south, Shion, I suppose. There is little enough to govern out here. I know, there has never been much here, in Gon, or in the other Desolate Cantons. Not ever, they say. It’s always been an out-of-the-way part of the world. Yet, we are people of O, too, Shion, are we not?

Akzasosan nodded sombrely. ‘I have heard this, or much like it, for hundreds of karsts’ he said. ‘It is regrettable. In the absence of the ZirSolIram, the pure word of the law, the House of Alzu only accumulates more merit for maintaining a proper vigilance upon its lands. But who acts for the Shion here?’

‘Well, Lord – the Utmen of the villages deal with the small potatoes’ Anso­bar said, modestly ‘and during the spring or early summer, the Shion’s agent, his SoPagir, Mister Rigo, he deals with the big potatoes.’

‘I see. But what happens if you dig up a big potato in the winter, when Mister Rigo isn’t here?’ Akzasosan asked, with a pleasant smile.

‘Well, Shion, it depends what you mean’ the Utman said, thoughtfully. ‘It depends on the potato. Most big potatoes, well, they’re not that big, when you finally cross the field; and if they’re not that big, I tend to treat them like small potatoes, really, and take care of the matter myself.’

‘The Shion of Alzu is fortunate in his Utman’ Akzasosan said, without irony. ‘So much for the medium-sized potatoes. But what if you unearth a bigger potato?’

‘Phaw!’ the Utman sighed, expelling the breath loudly as he worked to explain his philosophy of potatoes. ‘Well: with the bigger ones, I take a good look at them, and I think, “Now, then: will this get bigger if I leave it for a while, or will it just stay the same size?” Most potatoes like that, in the end, they won’t get any bigger, so I tend to just pop them back in the ground, if you know what I mean, and let them lie there till the spring.’

‘A very sensible policy, Utman Ansobar. And if a potato is too big to wait until the spring?’

‘Well, that’s a sort of emergency potato, Shion. Those you have to deal with, one way or another, straightaway – cook ’em, as it were, on the spot.’

‘So Mister Rigo doesn’t cook all the big potatoes, then?’ Akzasosan asked, smiling.

‘Not all of them, no, Shion.’

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

…‘The road, Doda’ he urged.

‘You know most of what the road is for already’ said Shinsota, with a surprising directness.

Zyso realised this meant that the time was nearly up.

Shinsota continued: ‘Who does the road belong to?’

‘You, Doda,’ said Zyso, in a sloppy, half-comic voice.

At this, Shinsota roused himself, and gently began disentangling his son from his position. Ah, thought Zyso, in a moment he will be gone.
‘Who does the road belong to?’ asked his father, patiently but deliberately.

This time, Zyso answered quickly and clearly.

‘The emperor.’

‘And who is the emperor?’

‘He is the guardian of the law.’

‘And what is the law?’

‘The law is the Way.’

‘And what is the Way?’

‘The Way is…’ Zyso faltered in the catechism a moment. ‘I forget, Father: what is the Way?’

Shinsota frowned briefly, and completed unwrangling his son from his neck and beard.

‘The Way is All, Zyso. And where and how do we keep the Way? In the Book of the law. And who guards the law? The emperor. The emperor, the law, the Book and the Way – this is our life, this is all. So’ – putting Zyso away from him, so the boy was standing – ‘the road is for our life, and our life is for the road. Time for bed.’

The last words came out clipped definitively.

‘But Father – I don’t understand,’ said Zyso.

‘It will take your life to understand, little Zy, So of Shin,’ his father replied as he stood up with a final, flitting, reminding glance at the gathering darkness. ‘Don’t be in such a hurry.’

Zyso tried, but couldn’t quite let go: ‘But I don’t understand, Father. What is the emperor?’

‘He’s the guardian of the law. Come now, bed – you promised.’

‘I’m going, Father, I promise, but – what is the emperor?’

Shinsota, with his clever, strong hands, quickly rotated his son through 180°, and began propelling him firmly towards the bed.
‘You wouldn’t understand, Zyso. Later, when you’re grown up.’

‘Alright, Father. I defer myself.’ Zyso thought he’d better throw a deference in, almost conversationally – but followed it up with a last, despairingly casual question as the small wooden ladder to the upper bunk touched his fingers: ‘But the emperor – what is he like? Is he like the sky? Like the clouds? What, Doda?’

‘Undress,’ murmured his father, ‘make prostrations and go to bed.’

‘I will, Father.’

Zyso, conceding defeat, began undoing his robe. He waited for his father’s rough, quick kiss, the hands upon his head and the blurred grating of the whiskers against his skin. But, for a moment, the kiss didn’t come.

Oh, thought Zyso. This is a pause. I thought it was the end.

It was quite a long pause – a four-button pause. Zyso also kicked off his right slipper as he worked on the small neat buttons and the button-holes.

Then the pause ended, and something like a new world began for Zyso.

‘The emperor is a man,’ said his father.

Still undressing rapidly, kicking off the left slipper, Zyso half-turned to Shinsota.

‘What is a man, Father?’

Shinsota laughed out loud – a short, half-joyous sound that ended suddenly.

‘A man? Why, I am a man, Zyso.’

‘And the Wizard Brix’ Zyso responded: ‘He is a man. And Captain Bustle…’

Uxo: they are just characters in stories, Zysoshin. They are not real. But the emperor is real. The emperor is a man like me. Only… Higher.’

Zyso wriggled out of his trousers, and stepped away from them, the soft leather making little broken leg shapes on the floor.

Then he paused for a moment, as the thought became too much to ignore, and too great to defer in any way.

‘Do you mean, Father, that there is more than one man?’

‘Too late, now, little So of Shin’ his father murmured. Here, the kiss came, a scuttle of whiskers around the softness of the lips, just touching Zyso’s forehead.

Shinsota also leaned over his sleeping daughter, and kissed a loose strand of her hair.

It was beginning to get dark in the room now, and Zyso knew his father must go up.

The Goodnight came, setting all the bones of the world into the right place, allowing the stars to come, giving sleep permission to hold sway now.

‘Goodnight, Father.’

Shinsota ruffled his son’s hair affectionately.

‘Make your prostrations.’

‘I will, Father.’

Now his father was at the thick, heavy door leading from the parlour to the tower.

Again, when the end seemed to have happened, it hadn’t – it was another pause.

‘And yes, Zyso – there is more than one man. But the way things are, you may never see another. Pray for me, and for your sister. Make your prostrations.’

Shinsota said this over his shoulder, as he moved into the stairwell, and then there was the swing-to, the smooth click as the massive wooden door, hung on the hinges of the light, violet metal that doesn’t rust, shut conclusively behind him.

More than one man?, thought Zyso. Two men? The emperor, and my father?

Is that what the road is for? So that the emperor can come down it? Like in the fairystories? The emperor, who is the guardian of the law?…
But how can there be more than one man? And if there is more than one man, why did Doda say I might never see another? Maybe he is already coming. Maybe he is coming today…

Did I say it was often winter there?

Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

It is given to few people to be there when mountains begin to rise.

And to fewer people, patience to watch the mountains as they grow, presenting their great heights to the sky.

Fewer people still are there at the end, when the mountains are fully risen.

It takes a kind of courage, and a true spirit of endurance, to venture into mountain country.

And to be the first to venture there, to watch the mountains as they form, not knowing how they will grow, how high they will soar, it is the gift of independence, and a kind of courage, too, will single these people out.

Later, perhaps, many will say: Oh, yes, we were there, at the beginning. We knew. We always knew…

Please enjoy:


Dustless | Volume 1 || Amazon US / Amazon UK



In a moment, the universe had changed. In an instant, the ground beneath Zy’s feet was no longer the same: its meaning had altered, or had been altered, rather. Even more impressively, Zy intuited, simultaneously, everywhere in the SolTanZoZon, everything was placed in a new relation. The centre of the circle had changed – and with it, the perimeter. Or it was like a raindrop forming on the petal of a cloudberry: the drop grew more and more swollen, more potential with itself, more pendulous, more tear-shaped, until it seemed that it must roll off the petal, and fall to the ground; and so it did – but until that last, last moment when the thread of lucid water finally gave up its allegiance to the cloudberry, and declared itself for open space and then the ground, the raindrop still belonged to the petal. When it fell, it all fell, together. And perhaps that was what had happened in LuinShar. The raindrop had slipped off the cloudberry petal.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

Zy didn’t know quite why he felt so moved. But there was something about the juxtaposition of the lonely tower in the moonlight, high up there, above them, the small fire burning on the summit, and the bareness of the landscape in the frozen winter quiet, which caused a glowing shift in his understanding of the world. Through the long days and nights of the ride, plunged into distances, his eye had grown practised in measuring space, and he could gauge that the tower was about half an hour away, up the undemanding slope. There was a great stillness about everything at that moment: the night sky was still, the snowy terrain was still, and the air, and the moon, and the tower. Only the riders were moving – the riders, and the fire, burning, glimmering, beckoning to them.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

Their names seem complex at first, but once I had lived there a few days, I had begun to understand.

To take an example: the name of one of their magnificos, Princess Sysamil on:kori.

The name is like a series of empty boxes, stacked one within the other, holding elements of Her Highness’ identity.

Her family name is Kori: this is the great clan to which she belongs.

There are several branches of the Kori clan. She belongs to the founding house, the family originally granted the privilege of the status of a noble clan: hence, she is “on:kori” – “on” meaning “one”, or “the first”. If she belonged to a branch of the clan, which itself achieved status as an independent noble clan, she might be known, say, as Princess Sysamil dai:kori, or Princess Sysamil ig:kori. “Dai” is “two”, and “ig” is “seven” – so, in that case, she would be Princess Sysamil of the second, or of the seventh, branch of the Kori clan.

Her Highness’ ancestral name is Sysamil. Her intimate name – which only members of her family or those close to her would ever dare to call her – is Sy. This is like the living person, this “Sy”, in the armour of the ancestral and clan name – the warm, breathing individual at the heart of the armour of Rank and blood. The ancestral name is in three parts, thus: Sy-sa-mil. The “sa” indicates gender: it means, “daughter of”. “Mil” is her dominant parent’s name. By dominant, I mean the parent with the greatest prestige. So, “Mil” might be Sy’s mother, or her father. At this point, it grows harder for a foreigner like me to follow the map of the name, for I don’t know whether “Mil” is a masculine or feminine name. Even more confusing, these Sharians sometimes use the same names for men and for women. Their sophistication is perplexing! It is a way, perhaps, they keep outsiders outside, and insiders inside. Perhaps all cultures work this way?

In any case, “Sysamil” thus breaks down, “Sy-sa-mil” — Sy, the daugher of Mil.

Her Highness, Princess Princess Sysamil on:kori is thus, Princess Sy, daughter of Mil, of the founding branch of the Kori clan.

It is not so difficult, once the system is grasped…

 — Excerpt from a memoir by an anonymous merchant from Dozu, during the rapprochement of the Era of the Extended Hand, the last time visitors from the Eastern Lands were permitted footsteps in the Land of O.



‘There are some expressions which, when heard, convince you instantly that their author is a man or woman of great subtlety, that their illumination is intense and pure. This expression of Rygansogun’s is one such: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Of course, knowing Master Rygansogun was a RoMayZine philosopher, one can see that this epigram may be applied to war – that, surely, is one sense of the “house of fire”. Anyone who has fought with the Forbidden Army would feel this: unless a man becomes a thing of flame himself, he cannot live in the house of fire, he must burn, and perish. I have walked there, in the house of fire, and I know something of burning. And yet’ the young Lord went on, lifting his pale blue eyes to look at Zysoshin, and apparently blithely unconcerned that he was addressing his thoughts on complex philosophy to an eight-year-old boy, ‘perhaps the house of fire is not just the house of war, but the house of life itself. Certainly, this is the inflection placed upon the epigram by a much later philosopher, the genial and gracious Serensobel et:denu, a man of Fine Rank, of the Bullrush Mark and the dominant figure of the Ploughing Oxen Era, a master of synthesis, who did so much to try and draw the main traditions of pure philosophy together. Serensobel wrote: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless


Rising slowly like mountains, passed over quickly like rain…

But the mountains endure, and wait for the next rainfall, and the next, and the next…

As you enter the book, so the book enters you.

And reading becomes the book, the moment where there are not two things, but one.

Become original.

Become greater.

Become Dustless.

*     *     *     *     *

Dustless | Volume 5 || Amazon US / Amazon UK

Published December 2014

Please enjoy…

Dustless | Volume 1 || Amazon US / Amazon UK

Dustless | Volume 2 || Amazon US / Amazon UK

Dustless | Volume 3 || Amazon US / Amazon UK

Dustless | Volume 4 || Amazon US / Amazon UK