Archives for the month of: January, 2015

There was an ancient, immovable quality about Ahamuji: it was not to be domesticated, and it was inevitable. For eras and dynasties, for centuries, emperors and warriors had strayed into the forest here, and been tangled up, and lost; battles had been fought here, Marks been founded and risen to eminence, and the forest had grown around them, and they’d become tangled up, and lost; cities had been built, and towers both raised and razed, ZarakGar and SharAmor, DuzakGar, the greatest buildings in the six directions, but they had been built here, in Ahamuji, and slowly over the millennia, the Sea of Trees had risen around them, until, eventually, the great Sharhir of the Eastern and the Western Lands would be tangled up in the branches of the trees, and overwhelmed, and lost.

Armies had vanished here. States had been engulfed. Ideas, temples, ships, laws, books, engulfed. This place, Zy felt, as the riders moved further into it, is entirely RezIsimgrian: it possesses the magic of endlessness, where space defeats time, so that time, in the end, stands still.

And in RezIsimgria, Zy remembered again, people disappear.

The North. The wilderness. The Sea of Trees. The wrong road, the wrong direction. Is that what is going to happen to us? Zy wondered. Are we, too, going to disappear?

Excerpt from Comb, Volume 8 of Dustless

Advertisements

I have been sleeping. I have been silent. Silence, for me, is a kind of sleep.

I don’t know how long I’ve been here. In one sense, like anyone – like any thing – forever; in another sense, measured in a different way, by the calendar and by the clock, perhaps a few months.

Since they first set me down here, and they began to sing, my life has been unbearable. I cannot be here and be. So I must get away. I must tell this story.

I hate the silence, because in silence I sleep, and in sleep, I dream – and I dream of them.

*****

Within certain cults among the Pure, stories are forbidden. The imagination is forbidden for a lie.

Well, then, I am lying.

Uxo, uxo

You see, I escape my gaolers through my story. Through the time of ordered words, into my forbidden world, where I imagine my gaolers cannot reach me.

Do you see? Can you hear?

Am I all in words?

Ah, words – the most powerful substance in the universe. A single word: harder than diamond; containing more energy than sleeps, coiled, in the hearts of atoms. Infinite, without the need of space – but you can fold galaxies into it, if you want to. Tender, like mist in spring. More durable than the time of clocks; and more elusive…

*****

Whoever uses a word splits the world in two: as soon as you speak, there is the word, and there’s the wordless. The speaker splits from the story, story from speaker. And that’s what I want: to be divided, split up, fissured, so they can’t have all of me.

Before I began this story, there was nothing here. They had everything.

Now, this is my escape.

But I’m anticipating things… I’m running ahead of myself.

Where were we? Ah, yes, in the Desolate Cantons. In winter. 40,000 karsts from anywhere…

(I told you, didn’t I, that it was often winter there?)

Well, listen: there’s more, and I can tell you if you want to hear…

Do you?…

This is what happened.

Excerpt | Prologue to Comb, Volume 8 of Dustless

In a potter’s shop, in Snowflake, an out-of-the-way village in the Desolate Cantons, the Lord, Akzasosan, speaks with the old potter, Doyen Sekensoxow

…‘And your kilns are still working.’

‘Oh, yes, Shion – and the work is good, only… These are harder times in Snowflake and all around. Wealth diminishes, Lord. And when wealth diminishes, and life grows necessary and essential, people have no use for beautiful things.’

‘Beauty is never useless’ Akzasosan said, though in a rather regretful tone, and turning back, like the old man, to gaze upon the rich glazes cupping the sunlight from the angled window.

Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

On a road across a barren plateau, during a break in their journey, a lord, Akzasosan, is speaking to his barbarian servant, Early, and a mysterious child, Zysoshin

…‘Well, be that as it may. I am a long way from the Heart of Eternity, and a long way from the things I used to be. Still, in Subtle wisdom, it is asked: “What shape does a moment have?” And the wise ask back: “What shape does a cloud have?” This is what I have been taught. Moments are like clouds, they have no fixed shape. And all of time is a cloud. It drifts, it has no base. You ask: why do we burn your towers? And the answer goes back, eras and dynasties, through clouds of time, to a period before knowledge is knowledge, before myth… is myth… There is something wrong with that beast.’

Zyso looked up in the same direction as the Lord was staring.

It was the pack pony. The creature, despite being so heavily laden, was trying to turn its head and, with bared teeth, appeared to be grimacing, or nipping at the air. At the same time, it was lifting its left hind leg, and giving little kicks. The sway of the head, and the convulsive jerking of the leg, made it seem as if the pony were performing a peculiar dance.

The Lord’s frowning stare was full of a cold stuff. Zyso gazed up at the adult. Was that… fear?

‘What is the matter with the beast?’

He sounded querulous.

Immediately, master and servant set off back to examine the pony. Burning towers and moments like clouds were discarded. Zyso, watching the riders stomp off, sensed the unease and, without thinking, stood up and followed, straggling a small distance behind.

‘It’s the wound’ Akzasosan was muttering. ‘If the beast dies out here, stranding us in this wilderness…’ The timbre of his voice changed. Frozen, subterranean anger melted and rose up towards the surface… ‘I thought I told you to change the dressing!’

Shion, I did!’ Early protested.

‘You’ve been clumsy! If it’s infected… How many times have I told you, clean hands? To take care…’

Shion…’

They had utterly forgotten Zyso. They were in their own world.

‘Here, I will steady the beast. You, open it up.’

Akzasosan grabbed hold of the cheek strap of the pack pony’s bridle, and exerted his strength to keep the creature’s head from twisting around. The servant crouched down and dextrously began to undo the dressing.

Zyso had come to an uncertain halt, a few dedaziles from the ponies. The pack beast was side-on to him. He saw how its large eyeball rolled as the creature, head restrained by Akzasosan, tried to look back down the length of its body. A thick spittle drooled out from the mouth, the lips drawn back on big square yellowing teeth. Zyso saw how the saliva draped and slithered down Akzasosan’s riding cloak.

Hushhh. Shhhhh, there’ the Lord murmured angrily, and he stroked the side of the creature’s head.

How soothing that voice is, Zyso thought.

‘Well?’ the Lord was asking, over his shoulder.

‘It is nearly off, Shion…’

Early had undone the bandage, and was peeling back the metal foil from the hide. As he did so, he suddenly sprang a little way back, and uttered a grunt of repugnance.

‘Ugh! Wo!’

He straightened, and shuddered himself, as if he wanted to shake his own fingers loose, and get rid of what they had touched. He shook the Metallic foil dressing very hard, terrified that there was something on it which might come into contact with his person.

Zyso stared. He felt drawn to the wound, but drawn because he sensed there was something horrible about it, something he should not see.
We should have had magic horses, like the Wizard Brix’s Pinana, he thought. Magic horses, to ride and ride and ride…

But the pack pony had no ZingZang magic about it. It had no horseshoes made from the dried bitter tears of Vengeful Dragon, shoes harder than any Metallic zuth, imperishable!…

Uxo. Instead, it had things clinging to it. Small, pale, wriggling things.

Zyso could see clearly. He could make out the discolouration around the hide where the shining foil had hidden the wound. The cream skin had been gashed, there was odd purple and crimson and lilac tissue, but squirming around in the flesh, there were maggots. Exposed, some of them dripped and slipped out and fell into the snow. The rest were all trying to crawl deeper into the darkness of the flesh again.

‘Well?’ Akzasosan asked, craning round, his back still to Early, his weight leaning into the pony, hand gripping the cheek strap, seeking to keep the animal calm.

Shion – you must look!’ the barbarian said.

The Lord twisted about, but of course couldn’t see what was happening. Early came over and took hold of the bridle.

More of the pale, glistening creatures were dropping out of the wound. Zyso watched them twist and writhe on the cold surface of the snow. He saw how they were glistening, segmented spikes of organism. Others seethed in the ruined tissue of their host.

Zyso was afraid. Afraid of the maggots, and afraid of the expression on Akzasosan’s face. How tall the Lord was, how long his shadow as he turned in the sun. But what did he carry inside him? What were the emotions that made his face look so hard and so cruel?

Then everything changed. A look of disgusted astonishment came onto Akzasosan’s face. For a few moments, he stared quite rigidly at the pony’s disturbed flesh.

Bis… ZuShillo!’ he said, quietly. Then he turned to look at Early, as if to seek confirmation for his own amazement. The Lord was shaking his head. ‘This is… unfeasible…’ he said.

Surprise had softened him.

‘This shouldn’t happen’ he went on. ‘It is a disease of heat and summer. How could there be blowflies up here, at this time of year?’

‘It isn’t my fault, Shion!’ Early declared. ‘I was careful.’

Akzasosan ignored him. He shook his head again.

‘My Karo is bad’ he said. ‘I do not know what I have done to… This is absurd!’ he ended.

Zysoshin couldn’t help but stare at the exposed wound. It was suppurating a pallid fluid. The boy felt queasy, and yet he couldn’t look away. There was something compelling about the sight of the maggots twisting and creeping about, something fascinating and peculiarly convincing about the way they had so completely infiltrated the flesh of another creature. Zyso sensed he was witnessing a kind of truth. That was partly what magnetised him to the sight. He felt as if he could fall inside that wound, that it was an abyss, and he was standing on the edge of it…

Excerpt from Stories in the Falling Snow, Volume 3 of Dustless


 

Please enjoy…

•DUSTLESS-FIN1  •DUSTLESS-FIN2  •DUSTLESS-FIN3  •DUSTLESS-FIN4  •DUSTLESS-FIN5  •DUSTLESS-FIN6

 

The Sentinels

Dustless | Volume 1

Amazon Kindle Store:
UK | Dustless | Volume 1  |||–––––|||  US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

It is RoMayZine to understand: battle is endless.

Men and women struggle in the act of love, they battle: and in the act of birth, women struggle with their child: they battle. Born, a child struggles with the first blazing of the light: the battle of sight begins, and of all the senses.

Decision is battle: life is fought by decision.

Having won the first light, children battle to see and to grow. Men and women battle to keep their children safe. Death battles to take all the living prisoner, to subdue all armies of life, to grow greater the already vast armies of dust.

In a remote province of the Desolate Cantons, two exiles meet, and speak of decisions, speak of war.

One describes a duel with the King of Swords. The other describes life by the sword, in a place humanity may be cast off: the Place of No Footsteps.

To each, battle brings a kind of liberty, freedom from a world of laws, a victory for intense life.

Yet, when their battles are over, have they not drawn closer, after all, to joining the ranks of the armies of dust?

Precis to Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

Lord Akzasosan is performing SeriaYi, the formal recounting of an episode from one’s life

‘…I don’t know. Lord Marsodor, my master of SenZatsu, the art of the killing edge, had told me, as I have recalled, that of the three acts of killing, killing itself is simple. This is RoMayZine philosophy: they have a different understanding. In one sense, it seems true: killing a man is simple. The metal enters him and exits him; and between the zuth entering and exiting, the man turns from flesh to dust. It can take an instant. But Master Marsodor also said that the first and third killing acts are complex, difficult. I have always supposed that the first act of killing is the will to kill, an act inseparable from the events leading up to the simple act itself. The nature of the third killing act – the act that follows the killing – is perhaps the most enigmatic and strange: after a killing, what action can you take? Of this, the third killing act, my Master did not speak.’

 Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

Lord Akzasosan is performing SeriaYi, the formal recounting of an episode from one’s life

…’SurZuth was the metal beloved by the Ancient swordmakers. As with all Ancient zuthhir, the composition and forging of sur is a mystery. But a sword made of SurZuth is highly prized among us, we the inheritors in Paper days. For the Fine and the Subtle, the blades are objects of aesthetic veneration, expressing the unadorned purity and asceticism for which the Ancients are renowned. It is well known, so precious are the blades, so hallowed, austere RoMayZine Marks use these weapons as components of their meditation practice. And such swords were, to my younger eye, at least, utterly beautiful: what is more essential than a sword? And swords of SurZuth, the “morning metal”, with its radiant, milky sheen in certain lights, and in others a cold, chaste silver glow, are the most lovely of all blades.

The RoMayZine, for whom all weapons are of the mind, have a terse epigram on the form of these classical, OnDomin swords: Nothing less. Nothing more. Beside them, the wonderful structures of flowers seem languid and overblown; nothing in nature, or at least nothing visible to unaided eyes, possesses the absolute simplicity of a SurZuth sword. Form perfects function; and function, form.

We are indeed blessed by our revered and vigilant ancestors that the uses to which most of us will put a SurZuth blade are exclusively ceremonial, or celebratory of beauty: we live in a peaceful land.

These swords, when resting, are mysterious. They mix in their life, death. How peaceful fine blades seem. How lean their glory.

It is true that now, for myself, I would rather look at a spray of cherry blossom against a spring sky than the rarest and most exquisite sword in all of O – but then, I have seen a lot of SurZuth in the past decade, and I have tired of metal.

Please listen, and understand: I do not question the basis of the esteem in which these, the finest of swords, are held. I am rare amongst those who move among rivers and trees, stones and flowers, in that my knowledge of these blades is not one simply of contemplation or of limpid ritual alone. I know why these sur blades were made. I know not just how they appear, but what they are. I know what they do.
It is not a knowledge I would wish on anyone.’

Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

‘…Many of the convict songs were of a low sentiment, impure and ribald; but some, slower ballads or laments, had a kind of base beauty. I have heard a choir of convicts, in a lumber camp in the Central Chun sector, singing in the evening: there was such a terrible sorrow about the song, and the voices, I was unable to listen for long.

When human voices are raised in song sometimes, the word bursts, and the world seems to melt into a state one cannot understand. But even now, gifted by the ancestors with my return to walk again under pure skies, sometimes, in dreams, I hear those deep voices singing, out in the forest as the sun went down. I am unable to encompass with my narrow mind the mix of emotions the sound of those voices stirs in me. What is one to do with the singing of murderers? It is distressing. And when I hear that song, I wake in tears.’

Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

… ‘But the horrible thing was, we didn’t play like children: it wasn’t a game like that. There was something horribly dead about it. I mean, please don’t misunderstand me, I know children play very seriously; and I’m not trying to say they’re just innocents, and can’t be cruel, or whatever: but when they play, Suli, they play. And we weren’t playing like that: we were playing at playing – do you understand? We were just pretending to play – but we couldn’t, anymore: we had no joy, Suli, not even a cruel joy. We were serious – honestly! Holding our little printed rectangles of card! And it was all random, you see: the rules, I mean. Why a King higher than a Queen? Or a four a three? It was all made up: we all just agreed that a King was higher than a Queen. There was nothing in it, Suli: nothing behind it, nothing real. It was just water floating on water. We all agree to play by the rules. Ridiculous!’

Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

[In the middle of a frozen wilderness, the Lord, Akzasosan, is delivering a formal history (an “elocution”) to an audience consisting of his young barbarian servant, Early, and the mysterious, seven-year-old child, Zysoshin]

‘…This man, once of the ancient ZirCong Mark of the Long Night, thus established the order of a new world. The Sharian dialect would be spoken across the whole of O, and the laws of TanZo, as outlined in the AmorZine­ZirIramOAramTanZo, the Sacred Book of the Whole World of the Word of the Law of the Beautiful and Simple Way, were to be applied across the entire empire. All existing fiefdoms, kingdoms, states and nations were abolished.

In this way, the SolTanZoZon, the Empire of the Pure Way, was founded.’

7
‘Well, Early, how do you like this performance so far?’ the Lord asked, suddenly and unexpectedly, gazing at his servant.

Early’s expression didn’t change. If you didn’t know him, you might have assumed that he was deaf, and blind, and that he hadn’t registered the Lord’s question at all. Akzasosan, however, waited patiently for the barbarian’s reply.

‘It is alright’ Early declared, eventually.

The Lord gave a short, hard smile.

‘It could be improved, you think?’

‘Well, the Lord hasn’t talked about Shu yet, Shion.’

‘Well, that is because this elocution is about the rise of the Land of O, Early, and not the rise of a small horsethief nation on the other side of the BisMarian mountains.’

Early’s face didn’t change very much. He blinked.

‘The Lord said he would tell me, why Pure soldiers attack Shu, and burn our towers’ he pointed out, after some consideration.

‘Did I?’ The Lord seemed genuinely forgetful.

Sai, Shion – back on tanzo, before we saw pony was wrong.’

Akzasosan’s features wrinkled up for a moment in a puzzled frown.

‘But… But that was hours ago!’ he said.

Early gave a minute shrug of his shoulders.

‘Still, you said you would explain, Shion. Respectfully, I say it…’

Zyso curled up a little inside himself. Would Akzasosan be angry? Some of the previous rage appeared to have dissipated, yet there was a residue of violence still hidden inside the Lord – the boy could sense it.

Clearly the barbarian had decided that his master’s mood had changed, however, because Early was being much more informal in his manner.

And the barbarian seemed to have judged the Lord correctly…

‘You have no sense of time, do you, Early?’ Akzasosan asked, almost without scorn. ‘You pick up a subject hours or even days after it has lapsed, and carry on as if the interval did not exist at all. And you expect everyone else to know what you are talking about. It is a gift. Some might even think it TanZo.’

Early just gazed levelly at his master.

The Lord gave up.

‘Well, well… Even if I were to answer your question about the burning towers, Early, I could not do it straight off. It is as I have said – and as I’m sure you have observed – one must have a context for one’s history. GaMin-Zo Zir-ee?’

Shion, what is “context”?’

‘It is the matter, surrounding an event or an object, that allows you to make sense of said event or object. So, for example, to put it into terms you might grasp: you see a strange man riding off on your horse. That is the event. And you will ask yourself: why is that strange man riding off on my horse? How did he come here? I left my horse tied up to a tree while I went off and had a snooze, as is my bent. Is he a friend, this fellow riding off on my horse? Is he doing me a favour of some kind? Is there an emergency which has caused him to borrow my horse? Where is he going?… There is much information you lack, you see, Early. That missing information is what makes up “context”.’

‘I don’t have a horse, Shion’ Early responded, after some moments.

The Lord have a hissing little grunt: ‘Shhuh!’ And he smiled.

‘No, you certainly do not, Early’ Akzasosan sighed. ‘But let me finish my elocution. And then’ the Lord added, confusingly, ‘even if you don’t have your horse, you will have some context.’

Excerpt from Stories in the Falling Snow, Volume 3 of Dustless


Please enjoy:

Volume 3 | Stories in the Falling Snow

Extras | lexicon, select chronology & other matter

•DUSTLESS-FIN3

Amazon Kindle Store:
UK | Dustless | Volume 3  |||–––––|||  US | Dustless | Volume 3

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00DFIOEN8